A switch among voice based VAS companies from DTMF to speech recognition based services appears to be in progress – Nuance Communications yesterday announced deals with One97 Communications and Comviva. Last year, Nuance had tied up with OnMobile Global, which had subsequently acquired Telisma Inc, another speech recognition company.
One97 Communications will offer services that use Nuance’s speech recognition technology to telecom operators and enterprise customers. More importantly, the company will replace its existing DTMF based (where you have to key in a response) content search platforms and out-bound dialers with speech recognition based service. “The deployment on voice portals has already begun, and systems which are a cost to the operator will be rolled out subsequently. More than 95% of CRBT (Caller Ringback Tones) customers must have been acquired by us. We were limited by the DTMF option, and this allows consumers to choose more songs – from the long tail – rather than a limited list of 5-6 songs,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, MD of One97 Communications said at a press meet yesterday, adding that “In 3-4 weeks, you will start seeing this solution in outbound dialers”.
Frankly, 95% appears to be an unbelievably large number, and it appears that CRBT is largely dependent on outbound dialers.
Other deployments that the company is looking at include self care solutions for banks, BFSI segments etc. Sharma also said that One97 Communications has launched a service with the largest theatre chain in India for booking using voice by just mentioning the name of the film. The company is also looking at voice based security verification for their commerce platform. A pilot in progress with an undisclosed operator involves giving customers access to the nearest store or recharge point. Though Sharma repeatedly mentioned the importance of speech recognition for rural applications, he declined to specify any such applications in progress, citing confidentiality agreements.
Comviva will launch in October 2009, a ‘Song Search’ service also powered by Nuance’s speech recognition product, apparently similar to the product to be launched by One97 Communications – allowing users to speak the words of the title of the song, rather than remembering the exact order of words in the title. Nuance will develop ‘Song Search’s’ user interface design, grammar and tuning services for songs in Hindi and Indian regional languages.
While in the case of One97 Communications, Nuance is offering speech recognition for 30 languages and dialects, variations in dialects (there are thousands of dialects in India) post deployment will provide the company more data to work with for refining their speech recognition service. Sunny Rao, MD India and South East Asia, Nuance Communications said at the press meet that in order to deal with dialects, they essentially take one language as a root, and map all the dialects close to it. “from a major root language, we’re covering 13 languages, with a total of 30 dialects. We haven’t rolled out a free-flow system, but it’s natural language understanding.” About commerce transactions with voice based verification, he said that India faces a challenge for fingerprint recognition, wherein farmers’ fingerprints are obliterated during the sowing season.
Rao declined to comment on the exclusivity of deals – Nuance has partnerships with VAS companies including OnMobile Global, One97 Communications and Comviva in India. He also declined to not comment on the reported deployment with two telecom operators, saying that that the statement given out had not been authorized.
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