Say what! Speech recognition gets faster, more accurate on Windows Phone

Say what! Speech recognition gets faster, more accurate on Windows Phone

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Your Windows Phone is becoming a better listener. image

In a blog post today, the Bing team announced that voice search and voice-to-text—two popular Bing-powered phone features—are now up to twice as fast and 15 percent more accurate, a feat accomplished by exploiting some recent biology-inspired artificial intelligence breakthroughs from Microsoft Research scientists.

Check out the video below to see Bing’s Stefan Weitz and MSR’s Michael Tjalve demo some of these improvements on Windows Phone 8—or just try them yourself (U.S. only for now). Tap the Search button, then the little microphone icon, and then tell Bing to find something. I said, “Show me movies playing in Seattle” and my search results popped right up. You can also try dictating a text message or email (again, just look for the little mic icon in each of those apps). If you’ve never played around with the phone’s speech recognition features, this how-to article is a great place to start.

Teaching a computer to understand the human voice in both real time and noisy real-life environments is no easy feat. And it turns out there’s a fascinating backstory to how Bing engineers and their Microsoft Research collaborators pulled it off. The Inside Microsoft Research blog dives deeper into the science behind today’s news.

As you’ll see, it revolves around something called deep neural networks. You pretty much need a PhD to understand the details of this stuff, but simply put what’s cool about the research is that it draws on biology and the human brain’s natural pattern recognition ability for inspiration. In practice, deep neural networks involve lots of mind-twisting math, racks of fast computers, and a mountain of data to learn from.

As the post notes, deep neural networks show promise for other phone-related applications, too. One is real-time language translation. Imagine popping open the Bing Translator app on your phone, speaking in English, and hearing your voice simultaneously translated into Mandarin—and the Chinese-speaking voice even sounds just like you.

Don’t expect your phone to do that any time soon. But as MSR’s Rick Rashid demonstrated at a recent conference (a story described in today’s post), it’s also not necessarily science fiction and just one example of what deep neural network research might someday make possible.

9 Comments
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  • Is there any filter for speech recognition?  I would like to add a new feature in our upcoming <a href="www.contus.com/windows-application-development.phpWindows">8 Mobile Application Development</a> called Parental Control Recognition. Where I can get more info regarding this ?

  • It is nice to see Microsoft still develops for Windows Phone, I thought they were abandoning it. They just come out with new Skype features and ignore Windows Phone.  It would be interesting to hear why they ignored Windows Phone, maybe they want to be like all other developers and ignore it.

    How can anyone take WP seriously when Microsoft cannot even get it's own company to support the phone.

  • And yet nine times out of ten my Windows Phone still decides to do a internet search when i say "text mum"

  • Although I will take what I can get, I do seem to remember a more Siri like experience being demoed a couple of years ago. I also remember demos of live tiles that show geofencing and locational awareness. When will I be able to have reminders that go off based on location. When will I get profiles that set my phone to vibrate when I get to work or I am in a meeting.

    When will I get video messaging with Skype? Like was just released for everybody else and Blackberry devices?

  • Any improvement on any aspect or feature is always welcome.  And it's great to see individual apps that are very popular on other platforms are starting to pop up--in no small part to Nokia's near-herculean efforts.  But when we see yet another example of an app that should have come out for Windows Phone first actually showing up on all platforms BUT Windows Phone, it's hard to maintain a significantly high level of enthusiasm when that keeps happening.  Windows Phone 8 was to represent a much higher ability to augment features than WP7 was capable of.  Although the rumors of GDR2 and GDR3 sound promising, they are still not much more than rumors.  The hype behind WP8.1 (aka, Blue) would seem to indicate the system will be moving more into parity with at least the Windows RT, bringing a somewhat more unified platform.  But we've also seen that RT seems to suffer from the same dragging approach to updates and feature improvements. It's quite frustrating.

  • @leoniDAM: They are. Sorry I didn't make that more clear in the post earlier.

  • but these improvements are only for US consumers?

  • Wait, you have curling practice in summer? I'm so jealous. Our end-of-season bonspiel was in March... I haven't curled since, and we don't start again until October.