Startup Rolls out Speech Recognition Beta for Mobile Phones

Vlingo Corp., a speech recognition software vendor founded by industry veterans, has released a beta version of its new software for mobile phones.

Vlingo calls its Find speech recognition software a "breakthrough" for mobile phone users who want to free themselves from "tedious triple-tapping" when searching or downloading content on their phones. Other vendors offer speech recognition for mobile phones, but Vlingo's software doesn't limit users to a predefined list of words, like other vendors, said Vlingo CEO Dave Grannan, a former general manager at Nokia Corp.

Vlingo uses what it calls adaptive hierarchical language models to learn words, user speech patterns and accents, Grannan said. Vlingo compiles the information from users to improve the speech recognition accuracy, he said.

"Users can say anything they want," Grannan said. "If you're going to use your voice, it cannot be the traditional, 'we only allow you to use a certain number of words.' People are going to search for anything on the Internet."

Vlingo's software includes a user interface that suggests alternatives if it may have misunderstood the user's request. The user can then scroll down and correct the software. Users can also mix typing and talking.

Vlingo came out of stealth mode with its beta release Tuesday. It's initial target market will be consumers who have mobile phones with advanced features such as browsing capabilities.

Vlingo was founded a year ago by Mike Phillips, a co-founder of speech recognition vendor SpeechWorks, now Nuance Communications Inc., and John Nguyen, a former vice president of engineering at Groove Mobile, a provider of music services for mobile phones. Vlingo is funded by Charles River Ventures and Sigma Partners.

The demo version of Vlingo FIND is available to use until mid-November.

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