Giving Voice to Text Messages

Tired of pecking out text messages on your phone? Nuance Communications
promises help is on the way.

At the Conversations Mobile conference today in Orlando, Fla., Nuance showed off a beta of Nuance Mobile Dictation, which lets mobile phone users use speech to create text messages, avoiding the keypad altogether.

To highlight the advantages of NMD, Nuance staged an event pitting Ben Cook, who holds the Guinness world record for text messaging, against a Nuance product manager using the new software.

Cook holds the record for the fastest entry of a 160-character message on a mobile device: “The razor toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”


Cook’s time was 42.2
seconds.

While they didn’t go head to head, the NMD user’s time of 16.32 seconds
easily beat Cook’s time.

Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, said the technology has great promise if the accuracy
level is high.

“We’ve looked at the social dynamics of this and there are definitely
times when you want to communicate messages to people and not necessarily
physically connect with them,” said Bajarin.


“Think about when you’re driving in your car, for example, and
you want to get an e-mail message to someone. If Nuance or anyone else can
nail the accuracy, it’s a winner.”

Other contests were conducted at the conference, including ones that used more
typical text entries.

For example, Cook typed, “I’m on my way. I’ll be there in
30 minutes” in 16.25 seconds, which took a Blackberry user 30 seconds to type.


But
Nuance claimed victory at a speedy 7.86 seconds time with NMD.

Nuance said the software is in testing with carriers and won’t be
available as a service to mobile phone users until sometime next year.

“Mobile phone subscribers sent over a trillion SMS  messages last year — despite the data entry constraints of cumbersome phone keypads — so one can imagine the potential of this market given a simple and intuitive speech-driven SMS interface,” said Michael Thompson, vice president and general manager of telco, search and
communications at Nuance.

For those committed to typing their text messages, Guinness has
identified what it said is the world’s largest, working mobile phone.


At over six feet high, the keys are big enough for anyone’s fingers, but
mobility is another matter.

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