First Speech-to-Text Messaging App for Android
Texting on a Motorola Droid can now be done in more places and while doing more activities with the release of ShoutOut, a voice-activated texting technology now available in the Google Android Marketplace.
Texting is the instant messaging of mobile communications, and often demands an immediate response. Hands-free texting could be useful in the kitchen, the yard, or any other place where a spare hand is simply not available―with the exception of driving.
The pressure to answer or send a text immediately even while driving has prompted 23 states, D.C. and Guam to ban text messaging for all drivers. In some states, both handheld and hands-free cell phone use is prohibited.
Voice-to-text communication can also be helpful for those who struggle with typing on a touch screen phone without its tactile cues provided by physical keys.
ShoutOut is a voice recognition application designed for texting on touch screen phones. Developed by Promptu Systems Corporation, it lets users compose and respond to text messages in natural speech instead of typing. Promptu plans to roll out versions for other Android phones including the Motorola Cliq, but told TechNewsDaily the application will probably not be available on Google's Nexus One due to the presence of Google Voice.
The iPhone version of ShoutOut was released late last year. iPhone users pay $1.99 for 50 texts. The Droid version is free for the app and texts are routed through the user's wireless plan without a surcharge.
For ShoutOut to work properly, the program must be trained to the user's voice. A personalized acoustic model is assigned for every user during the app’s registration process. The new user will be asked to repeat several short phrases. The Promptu recognizer processes these phrases – called enrollment utterances – to adapt to the speaker's accent and speech patterns. Over time, users can expect higher accuracy and quicker translation according to Promptu.
But even after training, errors may still occur. ShoutOut includes a voice-activated editing tool that lets users see and select from likely word alternatives, so texting remains hands-free.
ShoutOut standard features include:
- Voice addressing to pull up a contact on the screen
- Message exchanges threaded by recipient
- Thumbnail images for contacts
ShoutOut’s speech recognition is server-based, and 100 percent automated. All message transcriptions that appear on users’ phones are created with no human intervention, so privacy is guaranteed, Promptu says.
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