Speech recognition heads to portable media players

Two US firms have outlined ambitious plans to enable users to talk to their digital media players instructing them what they want to hear next.

Music library firm Gracenote has teamed up with Scansoft to offer a control system that hopes to give people hands-free access to their digital music collection on the move and make the need for thumbs a thing of the past.

"Voice command-and-control unlocks the potential of devices that can store large digital music collections," said Ross Blanchard, vice president of business development for Gracenote.

"These applications will radically change the car entertainment experience, allowing drivers to enjoy their entire music collections without ever taking their hands off the steering wheel," he added.

If the Gracenote name sounds familiar its because it currently provides music library information and ID3 tagging for millions of different albums for music download services such as Apple's iTunes and Windows Media Player.

"Speech is a natural fit for today's consumer devices, particularly in mobile environments, and the increasing portability of large libraries of music and video files make speech a necessary interface for safety and convenience for entertainment devices," stated Alan Schwartz, vice president of SpeechWorks, a division of ScanSoft.
"Pairing our voice technologies with Gracenote's vast music and video database will bring the benefits of speech technologies to a host of consumer devices and enable people to access their media in ways they've never imagined."

Targeted products include car entertainment, portable media players and home entertainment devices such as media servers. The companies estimate that fully-integrated solutions for hardware and software platforms will be available in the fourth quarter of 2005.

However the companies have not commented on which players will be using the new software.


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