Should You Consider Investing in Voice Recognition Technology?
John is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
As technology continues to advance, I have spoken to a number of people that have asked me for a good area to research in terms of future growth and investing. I thought about it for a while and realized that an industry still in its infancy that has great potential to expand is voice recognition. This is an interesting technology. It has been around for decades but its applications and advancements are just now coming of age.
Have You Considered Nuance Tech?
One of the most recognizable companies in this industry is Nuance Communications (NASDAQ: NUAN). It is the leading speech recognition software vendor. Like I said, the industry is emerging as more than just a source of increased productivity. With the advent of online video sharing, the ability to translate (digital) voice into text will have many applications. Nuance is one company on the leading edge to benefit from this mega-trend.
Mobile apps and the use of tablets and smartphones require communications technology to advance for the convenience of customers. Nuance's next-generation Swype Keyboard is one of those advancements. It is called a “four-in-one keyboard” and it is a revolutionary step forward in the way people communicate and input text on their mobile devices. Swype now combines touch and voice input with uniquely adaptive capabilities to understand users’ preferences over time – becoming smarter and more personalized every time they swipe, speak, tap and write.
Have You Considered Spansion Inc?
Another company on the edge of this technology, Spansion Inc (NYSE: CODE) launched a segment of its business that is essentially a family of human interface accelerators, starting with a voice recognition chip. The company teamed with Nuance Communications to create its Spansion Acoustic Coprocessor.
Alvin Wong, vice president of marketing for Spansion’s new programmable systems group states: “We really believe human-machine interfaces are the future, so we are also looking into gesture and image recognition products.” The company will be working with Nuance on future chips for industrial and consumer markets but is focused on one of the fastest growing segments of the voice recognition industry, car infotainment.
Automotive is a natural target for Spansion. Auto manufacturers must continue to deliver real time info to drivers with safety in mind; interfacing with voice commands is the natural way to go. Presently, it supplies 70% of the NOR flash used in cars. Market watchers forecast a potential automotive market of as many as 35 million units growing to as much as 90 million units over the next several years.
Even Apple is Getting into this Industry
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) acquired Siri almost two years ago, and has since worked on integrating the technology into iOS 5. Since Siri voice recognition and command technology is well established in the iPhone, it makes sense that Apple would explore this technology for automobiles so that it can integrate itself into the everyday lives of consumers, even as they drive.
BMW Using Siri Technology
Using its voice command steering controls, the company hopes to integrate Siri technology into its cars for 2013. Apple’s new Eyes Free mode enables drivers to use Siri to interact with their iPhone by voice. This is where the everyday dependence upon Apple comes in. Right now on an iPhone, using Siri, a customer can access external queries about weather, local businesses, traffic, and its hands free assistant can create calendar appointments, look up contacts, set up timers and location-based reminders, access maps or directions, send emails or texts, or control iPod playback. Imagine doing the same thing in the car while you drive without using your hands.
Mercedes Using Siri Technology
Mercedes will use Siri in its A-Class cars, due in Europe later this year. Drivers with iPhones will access them through Mercedes’ “Comand” infotainment system -- a smartphone looking gizmo built into the dashboard. A driver can ask Siri to send messages, select music tracks, and check the weather forecast or stock prices, as well as to make appointments.
Voice recognition technology is steadily coming of age and will continue to grow and apply itself industry by industry. These examples are just a small sample of how it is being used and will grow in the future. Check the industry -- you may want to invest in it!
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