logo-nuanceNASDAQ listed Speech and Imaging solutions company Nuance Communications is launching a voice recognition service with two operators in India, reports Mint. The service will be used to power song search.

Sumit Goswami, Head of Marketing (India/Asean regions) at Nuance told MediaNama that the service being launched is free-flow voice-based search. In case of a free-flow search, the product returns a result based on  an entire sentence spoken instead of a specific keyword. Voice is first converted into text, a database is queried, and a result is provided to the user. In our opinion, all voice based search will eventually have to be free-flow, and voice to text is especially important in India, given the dominance of voice based services, and the fact that text based services will have a limited role in rural India. Even for voice based services, the dialects will be difficult to understand, and the dictionary powering the voice-to-text service will learn with more usage.

At present, the product, Nuance Recognizer does voice-to-text search for 11 languages – Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi and Indian English; two other languages are still under development. The product can be deployed for both song search and directory search, though it has been deployed previously in India for speech recognition for contact centres in the BFSI segment.

Nuance is going live directly with the telecom operators. Nuance expects the service to be live October or November 2009 – latest by the first quarter of 2010. The deployment will cover 70 percent of all the circles that those operators cover, Goswami said. Nuance powers a few languages for OnMobile Global as well, though OnMobile competes with the company for deployments after its acquisition of Telisma.

Goswami said that Nuance currently deploys products on a licensing model: For example, a contact center may have a requirement of 10,000 ports, and Nuance is paid per port. Why not a revenue share model, which Indian telecom operators seem to prefer? “We will have to change the model to a revenue share model for India, but that is not being done in the current case,” Goswami said.

Other companies in the voice-to-text space in India include Capital18 funded Ubona, mScriber, Google (their Blackberry app returns search results on the basis of a voice based query) and OnMobile owned Telisma. EnglishSeekho is also being powered by a voice to text technology.