Nuance Speech Recognition Technology Powers Microsoft SYNC

I had a lot of fun testing out Ford’s Escape Hybrid and their Microsoft SYNC technology. As I expressed in my posts and demoed in my videos, my kids and I had some struggles with the speech recognition aspect, though.

During my evaluation, I was surprised to find out that Nuance ( the company behind Dragon Naturally Speaking) powered the speech recognition engine in Sync. Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with them about a few of my challenges, as well as learn about some things they are working on:

  • Sync had some problems recognizing some of the words my kids speaking. This is mostly due to engine being tailored to adults deeper voices. The higher pitched children’s voices typically falls outside their normal acceptance frequency. However, Nuance recognizes the media centric aspects of Sync and are working on making the experience a successful one for kids, too.
  • Street numbers: Nuance recognizes street numbers from 1 to 10,000 and there are 40,000 different variations on how street numbers could be spoken. For example, to get to 123 Main Street, I was telling Sync to go to one hundred twenty three Main St.   Sync / Nuance is most successful at recognizing street numbers when the individual numbers are spoken: one two three Main Street.
  • Nuance is working on a speech recognition for the iPhone called Open Voice Search (OVS). It is currently in the R&D labs. No word on timing at this point.
  • According to Nuance, Sync has been a very successful venture for Ford, Microsoft, and Nuance. Prior to the downturn in the economy, there was a significant jump in car sales due to the Sync application.