Look, GOOG-411 Users, No Hands!

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-03-17
 
 
 

U.S. users tired of dialing 1-800-GOOG-411 on their mobile devices to look up business information will get a reprieve.

Google's free local search service will soon be available over Bluetooth headsets, courtesy of a hookup between the search giant and speech recognition software maker Sensory, the companies said March 18.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sensory will use its BlueGenie Voice Interface software client to connect to Google's voice search servers, Sensory CEO Todd Mozer told eWEEK.

Using a headset equipped with the BlueGenie software, a user can say, "Call GOOG-411" to dial the service, then say a location and business name or category. Google then connects users with the requested destination-any business in the United States-without the user touching a phone.

Mozer, who has been testing the service for a few months, said the ability to use his voice to search for business information obviates the safety and convenience issues associated with driving and dialing.

"Instead of driving in a car and hitting 10 digits, I'm [able] to keep my phone in its case and avoid the pressing buttons-flashing lights scenario," Mozer said.

"By having simple voice control of features like pairing, placing and receiving calls, and now even dialing voice search services such as GOOG-411, Bluetooth headset manufacturers can add value and enhance the experience for their customers," Fiona Thomson, senior market analyst for IMS Research, said in a statement.

GOOG-411 beats Microsoft and other rivals

Sensory's first announced customer for BlueGenie is Bluetooth headset maker BlueAnt Wireless. BlueAnt expects to ship a headset equipped with a "Call GOOG-411" voice command in the second quarter of 2008.

Mozer said there is no special reason why Sensory picked Google's 411 service to go to market with its Voice Interface client, noting that similar partnerships could follow with 411 service providers such as Microsoft's Live Search 411, Jingle Networks' Free411 and Nuance's BeVocal.

Moreover, he said Sensory expects to work with 411 service partners to set up an ad-based revenue model, but it has not been determined how this would work.

Lauded for years as a game-changer for consumers and corporate employees, speech recognition technology has been slower than expected to catch on for a number of reasons, not the least of which has been a dearth of consumer demand due to underwhelming applications.

With its Voice Interface software, Mozer said Sensory is looking to change that, and leverage what he said is a 100 million unit-per-year market for Bluetooth headsets.
Rocket Fuel