Google was just granted a voice search patent that will bring it one step closer to the inevitable: voice search for your cell phone. With all the hype surrounding mobile penetration and how everyone will be able to access the web through their phone, PSP, and toaster, I haven’t seen too many players out there focusing on the next gold rush: bridging the gap between the tiny things in millions of hands and the wealth of information online (or at least effectively).
Google did this with search, they will next do it with mobile voice search. They will probably have to go up against MS, which I imagine is working on this as well behind the scenes. Local search is the next frontier.
My phone, PDA phone, and PSP (playstation portable) can all access the internet. But I harly ever use them for that. Why? Typing in information into a device without a QUERY keyboard is painfully slow. Now, if you could just press a button and tell your cell phone “Google me pizza” or “Google Shakespeare’s restaurant, Sarasota, Florida” and get a concise screenshot back with address, phone, (and maybe map), then you have something that millions and millions of people will use.
Microsoft voice command is probably the best product I’ve used that recognizes speech, the only problem is that it’s only good for the limited amount of information and names stored in your pocket pc. So “Call Duane Anderson at home” only has to compare that to my contacts. When you leave it open ended like “Call Rico’s Pizza”, it has to compare that to the world at large, so there have to be some VERY sophisticated AI algorithms to figure out what the most likely categories of what you’re looking for would be, hopefully match that to your zip code (GPS or known user data), then ask you back what IT thinks you were looking for, maybe ask you to refine its assumptions, then give you what you need.
The technology is still in its infancy, but the first player to make voice search via mobile device a reality will win a huge piece of the local search pie.
Quick tip: If you haven’t tried this already, use your cell phone to send a text message to “GOOGL” (46645) with anything local like “pacific rim sarasota fl” – you will get a txt back with the address and phone number. My prediction: coming in 2008 or so – voice instead of type.