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Part II: Tomorrow’s Technology > Talking to Your Mobile Device: Spoken Language...

Chapter 40. Talking to Your Mobile Device: Spoken Language Understanding

Have you ever wished that you could simply speak to your mobile device instead of having to tap on menu items to navigate applications, and having to use the onscreen keyboard or graffiti-style handwriting to enter text? Surely, a few spoken words would be a much quicker way to get your point across, particularly if the device could understand your spoken words and commands in addition to simply recognizing them and converting them to text. Perhaps these spoken words could be used in combination with some menu selections using the stylus for even greater productivity? What if the spoken-language engine was a service that could follow you around from device to device and operate as your virtual assistant?

What we’re talking about here is the use of multimodal technologies together with spoken-language understanding. This combination is particularly interesting because it can help to make a number of consumer devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smartphones much more usable. The tablet PC is a good example of a consumer gadget that already has some of this multimodal functionality via its speech-recognition and digital-pen-and-ink capabilities. Beyond the tablet PC, several research projects at companies such as Microsoft are taking multimodal interaction and spoken-language understanding even further to give us a glimpse into the future. Microsoft Research has a project called Dr. Who that is investigating these types of opportunities by using distributed, continuous-speech recognition and spoken-language understanding to enable new forms of human-computer interaction.


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