Microsoft bridges the voice gap

Marketplace Staff Mar 15, 2007


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: A lot of us talk to our computers but one day soon they may be able to respond. Microsoft has acquired the voice recognition technology company Tellme. It will allow the company to integrate speech into its products. Pat Loeb tells us Microsoft expects Tellme to give it an important edge.

PAT LOEB: You’ve probably already used Tellme technology if you’ve called 411 or booked a flight on the phone. The company figures one in three Americans uses its services.

Microsoft’s Jeff Raikes says now the technology will be global.

JEFF RAIKES: We want to be able to take that to the next level and also span it across a wide range of devices. We think speech will open up the potential of technology to millions and millions of people.

Analysts estimate Microsoft paid at least $800 million for Tellme.

Roger Kay at Endpoint Technologies Associates says it makes Microsoft an instant leader in voice command searches. That will be useful for its mobile phone service.

ROGER KAY: Voice communications are really going to help make it distinctly different from what other companies are offering and help them competitively against rivals like Google and Yahoo.

Kay says it may not be long before you can search for pizza joints from your car, then tell your phone to call the nearest spot. Now, that’s technology you can use.

I’m Pat Loeb for Marketplace.

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