A lot has happened in the speech technology industry over the past 12 months. Much of the activity comes from innovation and mergers and acquisitions, which have heavily influenced the outcome of this year's Speech Technology Market Leader Awards. In fact, there are new category winners in four of the five categories this year. Read on to find out which vendors are dominating their respective categories.
While speech engines could be seen as the heart of speech recognition, not all analysts foresee big growth in the market.
"Speech in enterprise contact centers is growing, but we expect the growth in spending on core engines to be modest, about the same as overall IT spending [five percent to seven percent]," says Dan Miller, senior analyst at Opus Research. "A multiplier effect...applies to the spending on core automatic speech recognition engines. Each dollar spent drives roughly seven times that in overall spending for solutions that include speech. Beneficiaries are third-party system integrators and professional services business units at the major contact center software companies."
Thanks to what can be called the Siri effect, analysts took notice of Apple this year and were particularly impressed with the accuracy, innovation, and cost of its speech engine. Siri is also becoming faster and adding features. Last month, Apple announced that the new version of Siri iOS 7 will include new voices, languages, and integration with Bing and Twitter. Apple is also planning to integrate Siri into in-car interfaces, which will let users get directions, access maps, make phone calls, and dictate and receive iMessages, eyes-free.
"I give credit to Siri and the several Siri-lookalikes," an analyst says. "Siri was the best thing that happened to the speech recognition marketplace in decades. Personal assistants [such as Siri] will dominate the speech app development marketplace for years to come."
Microsoft also stood out with analysts, who noted that its speech engine delivered highly accurate results and also cited its innovative qualities. Most recently, the company announced that its Bing voice search and voice-to-text were twice as fast and 15 percent more accurate on Windows Phone 8. The Microsoft Research team achieved these improvements over the past year by using Deep Neural Networks technology. "Bing's voice search is good and largely underappreciated," an analyst notes. "Microsoft has showcased some really excellent applications for its speech engine to do transcription and simultaneous translation in conjunction with things like videoconferencing. This could have a big impact on companies using Skype or Lync for things such as international conferences."