Vlingo, which makes speech recognition software for smartphones, released a SuperDialer feature for its Android application that connects users to businesses on the Web.
Vlingo's applications let users of Apple's iPhone, Google Android devices, RIM BlackBerry handsets, Windows Mobile and Nokia S60 gadgets trigger phone calls via voice instead of manual dialing on a touch screen or QWERTY keyboard.
Vlingo for Android enables people to call friends, family and colleagues listed in the smartphone's personal address book. Users can speak text messages into the phone to send to users.
SuperDialer, demonstrated here, takes the Vlingo functionality up a notch by letting users touch Vlingo's Tap & Speak widget and speak the name of a business with which they wish to connect.
The tool is especially useful for helping travelers to cities foreign to them call taxis or make restaurant reservations. Once users tap the widget, they can speak commands such as "Call for pizza" or "Call for directions to Citi Field" to connect with businesses near them.
Once Vlingo's speech recognition and natural language processing technologies locate the business, users will see reviews, ratings, maps and directions. Users will also be able to call the business with a single click or tap on the device, Vlingo President and CEO Dave Grannan told eWEEK.
Grannan compares SuperDialer to some of the things Apple's Siri semantic search application does. Siri is a virtual personal assistant application that lets iPhone users book restaurant tables and buy movie tickets by speaking into their phone.
Apple recognized the value of this semantic search and language processing app and snapped up the company for an undisclosed sum.
Grannan said that while Vlingo SuperDialer and Siri perform similar tasks, Siri "is an inch wide and a mile deep," picking certain domain categories in which to specialize. Vlingo aims for a broader set of applications.
Grannan said Vlingo will add social networking and fact and answer finding this summer.
"Where we're going is trying to push the boundary on intelligence, semantic Web and natural language processing across the areas of search and social networking," Grannan said.
SuperDialer could give Google a great answer to Apple's Siri move if it chooses to go that route.
Grannan admitted that Vlingo is in contact with Google on the Web search monetization front; listings Vlingo returns are often sponsored links from Google's AdSense program. He declined to say whether negotiations are under way for Google to buy Vlingo.
He also pointed out that Google, which has offered Search by Voice for almost two years, has plenty of speech recognition and semantic software engineers to build the functionality Vlingo has in SuperDialer.
Vlingo for Android is available in the United States from the Android Market for Android operating system versions 2.0 and later. Consumers may purchase the app for $9.99 now for a limited time.