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Google Opens Access To Its Speech Recognition API, Going Head To Head With Nuance (techcrunch.com) 46

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google is planning to compete with Nuance and other voice recognition companies head on by opening up its speech recognition API to third-party developers. To attract developers, the app will be free at launch with pricing to be introduced at a later date. The company formally announced the service today during its NEXT cloud user conference, where it also unveiled a raft of other machine learning developments and updates, most significantly a new machine learning platform. The Google Cloud Speech API, which will cover over 80 languages and will work with any application in real-time streaming or batch mode, will offer full set of APIs for applications to "see, hear and translate," Google says. It is based on the same neural network tech that powers Google's voice search in the Google app and voice typing in Google's Keyboard. Google's move will have a large impact on the industry as a whole -- and particularly on Nuance, the company long thought of as offering the best voice recognition capabilities in the business, and most certainly the biggest offering such services.
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Google Opens Access To Its Speech Recognition API, Going Head To Head With Nuance

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  • Nuance the Biggest (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ksevio ( 865461 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @10:30PM (#51766657) Homepage
    It's not so much that Nuance is known for being the best for a long time, it's more that they've bought out all their competitors and have pretty much controlled the market.
    • by WarJolt ( 990309 )

      It's not so much that Nuance is known for being the best for a long time, it's more that they've bought out all their competitors and have pretty much controlled the market.

      It's mostly that they were afraid of losing market share to Alexa Voice Service, which was opened up to developers a while ago.

      • The world needs high quality STT that works when the net is down and isn't vulnerable to arbitrary changes in API, availability, and legal impediments.

        It's clearly one of the harder software problems, but I expect it to be solved in fairly short order; years, not decades.

        • The world needs high quality STT that works when the net is down and isn't vulnerable to arbitrary changes in API, availability, and legal impediments.

          Not to mention, security issues (e.g. of the "sending all your private speech to the NSA" variety).

          • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

            Likely your phone would be doing that anyway -- if the NSA cared even in the slightest about you in particular. They're doing it on every phone call anyway. Government is long out of control on privacy issues. Then there's the "smart TV" issue...

            Orwell was an optimist [fyngyrz.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      we work in transcription business. that is exactly what nuance did, and do, especially the medical transcription segment.

      american-based, native english speaking transcriptionists are essentially just training nuance's computers to do the transciptionists' jobs. once the voice recognition accuracy hits a certain mark, they outsource to india or some other piss-poor country with lower wages and more favorable-to-them contract and labor laws, the editing of their now trained and automated output

      and we do that

  • Privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @11:05PM (#51766713)

    >" Google says. It is based on the same neural network tech that powers Google's voice search in the Google app and voice typing in Google's Keyboard."

    Indeed. So does this mean Google will store and mine and analyze and profitize the spoken text data too?

    • by WarJolt ( 990309 )

      The speech goes into retraining the machine. They profit from the transcribed data as well.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re '"analyze and profitize the spoken text data too?"
      Pics, text, sound and any other environmental sensor data found networked will feed the ads ... :)
      Google looks to patent tech that listens to calls to promote ads (23 March 2012)
      http://www.cnet.com/news/googl... [cnet.com] "..the patent application also looks into placing onto people's computers online ads that are influenced by data from environmental sensors--such as temperature, humidity, light, and sound. "
    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      does this mean Google will store and mine and analyze and profitize

      No, it doesn't mean that.

      Though only because Google is already doing it.

    • If you choose to use the product/service -- sure, why not? Do you think that creating, maintaining, and upgrading this kind of system is cheap?
    • Google's entire approach to speech recognition is based on big data, so yes, they will be "mining" it in the sense that they will use it to continually improve the technology, and improve accuracy for the individual user. I would be surprised if they didn't use that data for targeted ads (after all, that is what they do) but being Google there will likely be an easy opt-out.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @11:08PM (#51766729)

    To attract developers, the app will be free at launch with pricing to be introduced at a later date.

    The first one's always free...

    • if they were to announce the future pricing now it might even be worth trying.
      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @11:51PM (#51766815)

        if they were to announce the future pricing now it might even be worth trying.

        Keep in mind that the VR API used to be open, then they closed it, screwing anyone using it. Now they are opening it up again "for free", but it will supposedly be yanked away yet again, when/if they finally decide on the pricing. Google has a terrible record of supporting their products. You would be foolish to rely on this API if you have any alternative.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I couldn't agree more. Google has established a pattern of either buying or creating something cool and then shutting it down when some new whim takes hold. They are like a little spoiled kid in a toy store. TBH, either one is annoying as hell.

  • Google Closes Access To Its Speech Recognition API, 3rd party developers left scratching heads
  • ...the app will be free at launch with pricing to be introduced at a later date.

    /insert metaphor about drug dealers here

  • by Wizarth ( 785742 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @12:19AM (#51766853) Homepage

    I'm waiting to see if/how this affects Pebble Time. We've been wanting access to the Google Voice API for ages now. Personally I want it mostly for Google Now integration, which may or may not be separate.

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