Global Speech Rec Market to Approach $70 Billion by 2015

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The global market for voice recognition systems and software is projected to grow 29.1 percent during the next few years, reaching $69.4 billion by 2015, according to a new report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA). The analyst firm currently values the market at $49.2 billion.

The report notes that speech recognition has moved beyond corporate uses, dominated by interactive voice response systems, to more consumer applications, including mobile phones and computers, car navigation systems, dictation, and voicemail-to-text.

And while North America represents the largest regional market for speech right now, with sales projected to reach a total of $31.3 billion by 2015, the fastest compounded annual growth is expected to come from the Asia-Pacific region. Other growth areas include Latin America and the Middle East.

Though momentum slowed during the recession, companies began to show renewed interest in speech applications in 2010. Improved adaptability and accuracy in automatic speech recognition, text-to-speech, and speaker verification are all factors that are helping to drive the robust growth, the analysts said.

The growth comes on the backs of companies looking to differentiate themselves in a crowded business environment through improved automated customer care. The continuing transition from proprietary to open standards is also spurring growth.

"Open standards and Web technologies facilitate in dealing with impediments in speech development for technology vendors on one hand, and reduce maintenance costs for end users by eliminating dependence on expensive specialist system integrators on the other," the report's authors wrote. "Open standards additionally allow end users to install multiple applications in a single speech engine, which not only makes it cost-effective but also increases the flexibility of operations."

It also helps that the cost of speech recognition software is trending downward as increasing demand and rapid technology advancements that reduce the complexity of software installations continue.

The availability of free-of-charge speech services is also contributing to price reduction," according to the authors. "However, large service providers would continue with their premium pricing while only smaller firms are expected to offer products at lower prices."

And while the future is certainly looking rosy for speech technologies, some stumbling blocks to wider adoption will continue to exist, according to the research. Of these, accuracy issues are probably the most pervasive.

"The spoken command is not always recognized by the devices and also tends to fail in crowded areas where filtering out noise continues to be a hurdle," wrote the authors of the report.

Then there is the issue of consumer sentiment, given that most users would prefer to talk to a live operator rather than a speech-enabled system. A third hurdle is in marketing speech solutions effectively, mostly because enterprises lack awareness about the advances that have occurred in speech technology during the past few years.

"Enterprises in sectors outside the traditional telecommunications and financial industries continue to hold an opinion that speech applications are difficult to deploy and use," the authors write.

Cost has also been an issue, particularly among smaller businesses. "Though technology providers are investing time and effort in dissipating the myths, it is still a long way before enterprises with diverse languages and accents feel free to deploy speech applications. As of now, speech recognition is well-established only in North America, with deployment of speech recognition engines outside North America involving high cost due to the multiplicity of languages and dialects," the report finds.

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