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Google Voice Search May be Coming Soon 109

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the nothing-like-idle-speculation dept.
vitaly.friedman writes "The master of text-based search could be looking to lend a voice to Internet users everywhere, or so it appears based on Google's latest patent. Patent #7,027,987, issued today by the US Patent and Trademark Office, covers a 'Voice interface for a search engine.'"
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Google Voice Search May be Coming Soon

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  • WTF? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @07:40AM (#15112527)
    lend a lend a voice?

    Do Slashdot editors submit stories with voice recognition software?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    i) Take two existing technologies, such as voice recognition and search engines.
    ii) Put the two together and patent the result.
    iii) Profit!
    • Re:Step 2 found! (Score:1, Insightful)

      by afaik_ianal (918433)
      Yeah, because combining 2 technologies is never novel...

      How about:
      • Sliced bread/heating elements - this turned out to be one of the best inventions since, well... never mind
      • radio waves and telephones - both quite old technologies, but where would we be without them combined?

      In general, I think it's customary to at least look at a patent before commenting on its novelty. If you had, you may find that the patent goes a little further than just saying "take search, and add voice recognition". Oh wait - what s

      • If you had, you may find that the patent goes a little further than just saying "take search, and add voice recognition". Oh wait - what site am I on again?

        Yes, it does. It takes the probabilities that the voice recognition system outputs for various phrases (if you say "free ipod" it might recognize "free ipod" with a 90% chance and "free eye pod" with a 10% chance, since it's never totally sure what you said) and feeds them into the search engine as weights. Basically, it does use more useful informati

        • People keep complaining to me how I want to do the job of the compiler, but getting the right phrase is the job of the speech recognition system, not the search engine, though I suppose the compiler is better at it's job than the speech recognition engine. Even so, I'd want to correct the speech recognition system for guessing wrong before I passed it on to the search engine, but such tools are poor, possibly for similar reasons people don't want to second guess the compiler.

          No, I didn't say "Tonight to b
    • Here is what I overheard at MS. "That was OUR idear! I'll FUCKING KILL THEM!" -Ballmer 2006
  • Coming Soon? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afaik_ianal (918433) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @07:42AM (#15112532)
    I'd say that if Google had any serious plans to do anything with this, then we would have heard something about it already (something more than a paper written 4 years ago). Although the patent was only just issued today, it was filed over 5 years ago.

    It seems like a pretty big logical leap to say that it is "coming soon" based on the fact that the USPTO finally got their butts into gear.

    It's probably just an idea they though was cool at the time, and should be patented in case they want to use it some time.
    • I would not be so sure. We are just about coming to the time where advertisement and placement revenue can recoup costs of mobile data (or SMS). Similarly, VOIP has been driving costs of voice into the ground. They are nearly there where you would like a transport for search to be.

      It is quite possible that we will hear more about this one.
    • How could voice-activated search ever be patented? There's already the prior art of simply using stand-alone speech recognition software to "type" words in a search-engine.

      Perhaps they're using some kind of soundex (phonetic codification) way to implement this? That might be nice if you know what something sounds like but don't know how to spell it; i.e. the lyrics to a song or a person or company name.

      I hereby submit above idea to the public domain if it isn't patented yet ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @07:42AM (#15112535)
    I doubt speaking the word "sex" to my pc at work will get me a raise anytime soon... I'll stick with traditional methods of finding my porn... =)
  • by Crayon Kid (700279) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @07:42AM (#15112536)
    It can be interpreted either way. Either a search engine for audio files with speech recognition, which could be used to index podcasts and news streams; or a voice-driven interface instead of a visual one. Now which is it?
    • Given the current quality of Speech Regocnition, I wouldn't count on any "voice search" to be usefull in the slightest.. Good speech recognition is still decades away.
      • I wouldn't count on any "voice search" to be usefull in the slightest.

        But that's what's novel about this patent. It doesn't just run voice recognition and put a resulting string into the normal google search.

        It generates a weighted list of things that you *might* have said, looks them all up, revises the weights based on the results, and returns all the results, using the weights to help order them.
      • When was the last time you tried? A well-trained speech recognition program can provide about 95% accuracy in a controlled environment. Sure, it gets harder with punctuation, but a well-designed system ought to have at least some functional utility in the "finding results in the wild" arena. Audio indexing is not just something Google's doing. Microsoft OneNote 2007, for example, indexes audio (and all handwritten content, as well as OCR on all images) and makes it searchable. There is a great deal of util
    • Now which is it?

      If you had bothered to RTFP, you'd know :P. The patent doesn't explicitly say what type of data you are searching - it just says that it generates a list of weighted hypothesis for what the searcher may have said (i.e. a bunch of text strings with probabilities attached), and forwards them on to a (text-based) search engine.

      I'd say they are intending for this to interface with any of the existing google searches (web, images, news, etc). Your idea of searching audio, while interesting, wou
    • Didn't you RTFS properly?

      covers a 'Voice interface for a search engine.'
  • Google Voice Search (Score:4, Informative)

    by tehshen (794722) <tehshen@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @07:43AM (#15112540)
    Haven't they already done a thing like this [google.com] before? Maybe they've only just patented it. Either way I don't see a story here.
    • Remember that patents take years to issue. This one was filed in 2001, and just issued now, more than five years later.

      That said, I'm sure it does relate to the parent's link, and Google decided that, at the moment, there's not much of a market for search results via telephone. Not that they can't apply it in other ways now that VOIP is becoming more of a reality.
    • Now if they would only take the Google voice search and apply it to audio mining [google.com], it'd be more than just a neat gimmick...
    • It's two bits not a quarter in the joke. It dosen't make since the way you wrote it.
  • Economic terrorism, that is.

    Do they mean that they patented using voice recognition software to work with the Search textbox? Is this some sort of technology to take voice waveforms into the search engine and form audio search patterns? Is this about taking a media clip and finding the source media?

    What? It's so vague.
  • Especially from the image search page.

    You have been warned.

  • Voice Matching (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UnseenLlama (967777) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @07:45AM (#15112551)
    Great! Now the government will be able to not only track my search results...but also attach my voice to it! Not that I'm scared or anything...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I remember that Google had a link that you could dial in and give it a search term. You would then go to their "voice results" page and see what it turned up. I assume that the patent is based on this? I haven't looked at it in a few years and I don't even know if the page is still there, but this really isn't anything new, just that the patent was now granted.
  • In the library...

    Google Voice: Please state what it is that you would like to search for.
    MAN (whispering): .....porn
    GV: I'm sorry, I did not understand you. Please state your search item again.
    MAN (whispering): ...porn
    GV: I'm sorry, I did not understand you. Please state your search item again.
    MAN (whispering): porn
    GV: I'm sorry, I did not understand you. Please state your search item again.
    MAN (shouting): PORN! I want to search for PORN you stupid ass computer!
    (stares from every person in the vi
    • I hope it works better than my cellphone search.

      "Call Mom"

      "Call Tom?"

      "No. Call Mom."

      "Call Rob?"

      "No. CAHLL, MAAHM."

      "Call Craig?"

      "What? No. I'll do it myself, you stupid useless feature."

      • My cell phone can set up a conference call between me and all persons in South Africa whose names start with "J", using whatever directories of phone numbers is possible to connect to from where I'm standing for the moment.

        Me: Call mom.
        Phone: Set up a conference call between you and all persons in South Africa whose names start with "J", using whatever directories of phone numbers is possible to connect to from where you're standing for the moment?

        So far, this is unfortunately all I have gotten it to
    • Google Voice: Please state what it is that you would like to search for.
      MAN (whispering): .....porn
      GV: I'm sorry, I did not understand you. Please state your search item again.
      MAN (whispering): ...porn
      GV: I'm sorry, I did not understand you. Please state your search item again.
      MAN (whispering): porn
      GV: I'm sorry, I did not understand you. Please state your search item again.
      MAN (shouting): PORN! I want to search for PORN you stupid ass computer!
      (stares from every person in the vicinity)

      Better y

      • Actually an old friend of mine who went to a community college in Phoenix once told my friends and I something interesting. If you're on the campus computers ther and it determines that you are looking at porn, it will play the following (loud) message on the computer's speakers:

        Woohoo! I'm looking at PORN! Yeah, alright! This is great!
        Or something like that anyway. I'm still not sure if I really believe that though. It seems highly unprofessional for a college to do.
        • Actually an old friend of mine who went to a community college in Phoenix once told my friends and I something interesting. If you're on the campus computers ther and it determines that you are looking at porn, it will play the following (loud) message on the computer's speakers:

          Woohoo! I'm looking at PORN! Yeah, alright! This is great!

          I'm just curious. If someone used ssh or remote desktop to connect the machine, and watch porn in the web-browser on that machine, would it be detected, and which spea

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  • Wow, yet another garbage patent that does nothing except combine two existing things (search engines and voice-controlled software). Is there anyone in the world who seriously believes that without giving Google a 20-year monopoly on this, nobody would've thought of this?
  • That is when this was applied for. Since we haven't seen it yet, I would not put a lot of hope (or concern?) into this showing up anytime soon.
  • by ettlz (639203) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:31AM (#15112701) Journal
    MEMO: Google morality checklist
    1. See no evil. Check, moderate SafeSearch is on.
    2. Hear no evil. We're still coding the filter, but so far we've managed to eliminate "cocksucker" from the recognition patterns.
    3. Do no evil.
  • by MajorDick (735308) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:33AM (#15112715)
    I know of 2 people that have been searching the internet from voic command for over 6 years now.

    Is this prior art ?
    Google is OBVIOUSLY not the first to do it or even think of it.
    I can show you a half dozen Sc-Fi episode that have touched on this as well.
    How can you patent a communication medium's use ????
  • I can't wait.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    My boss always uses words like 'shit', 'hell', 'sucks', 'piecce of shit', 'fsck' and so on..

    I can't wait to see his face when google toolbar will start throwing pages at him.

  • European Quaero. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by magli (777787) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @08:55AM (#15112803)
    I was almost sure that I had read something about a EC funded "google-killer" search engine being developed in europe, which planned to do this. Sure enough:

    Attack of the Eurogoogle [economist.com] (Need subscription).
    No subscription needed here [eiu.com]
    From the article:
    researchers at the University of Karlsruhe are developing Quaero's voice-recognition and translation technology, with funding from the European Commission. [...] In addition, speaker-identification software will allow users (via computer microphones) to search the internet for audio clips recorded in their own voices, or those of other speakers.
  • The disabled have been using voice-interface software for years. I might still have an old copy of Voicetype shovelware that came with a Pentium PC in 1995.

    And for a search-engine-specific prior usage, in my area calling directory assistance has been largely automated using voice-recognition software, as have many coprorate phone systems.
  • In looking at the description and the claims a bit, this is primarily an extension of their search interface. From the patent's description:

    "...a method that provides search results includes receiving a voice search query from a user; deriving one or more recognition hypotheses from the voice search query, each recognition hypothesis being associated with a weight; constructing a weighted boolean query using the recognition hypotheses; providing the weighted boolean query to a search system; and providin
  • between "a voice interface for a search engine" and a "generic computer voice interface program"? moreover, what is the difference between a "generic computer voice interface program" and a "generic computer interface program"? further, what is the difference between a "generic computer interface program" and a "generic computer program"? between a "generic computer program" and a programming language?

    perhaps the only patentable thing in software might be breakthroughs in compiler theory or instruction sets
  • Now here's a thought - what if Goog were to implement their existing "Did you mean _____?" search suggestions with a voice-based system?

    You speak "find Ly-nux!" - it speaks back "Did you mean Lin-nucks?"

    While the example might make you chuckle, I think that such a feature could have far reaching impact - as has been discussed previously, one of the things which prevents people from learning about or discussing new things or ideas is an inability to pronounce the associated terms. Such an implementation

    • GWB: Google, find me some Eye-rain-ee-un New-cue-lar weapons.
      Google: Did you mean Ee-rahn-ee-an New-clee-ar weapons?
      GWB: Yeah, them's it!

      Perhaps if Google had this in operation in 2002, we would not be at war with Iraq over "new, cooler" weapons, but that's what you get for using substandard voice recognition (and substandard presidents), I suppose.
  • In Windows, it's fairly easy to hook up voice recognition to a browser. It would probably take me about 2 hours to come up with a basic voice-controlled browser.

    As the article suggests, the vocabulary is the problem. When doing dictation, grammar rules allow the voice recognition engine to usually narrow the list of words making recognition more accurate.

    The problem with searching is that you could be searching for anything. I'm not even sure their ideas of using past searches is even a particularly good id
  • by carrier lost (222597) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @09:54AM (#15113171) Homepage

    Kirk: Computer, get me coordinates to Alpha Centari!

    Computer: Did you mean: coordinates to alpha centauri

    Kirk: Yes, yes, okay.

    Computer: Alpha Centauri Alpha Centauri B is much brighter than Alpha Centauri C but still alot weaker than A. ... The coordinates for these stars are: ... www.eso.org/outreach/eduoff/edu-prog/catchastar/CA S2002/cas-projects/nether_alphacen_1/astrofacts.ht ml - 15k - Cached - Similar pages

    Kirk: What? Quick! Oh, OH KAY! for Pete's sake!

    Spock: Captain, you get better results if you say, 'I'm feeling lucky'

    MjM

    • by TCQuad (537187)
      My internet browser heard us saying the word Fry and it found a movie about Philip J. Fry for us. It also opened my calendar to Friday and ordered me some french fries.
    • I was thinking more along the lines of...

      Scotty: Google? Google?

      McCoy hands Scotty the mouse.

      Scotty: Hello, Google?

      Engineer: *sigh* Just use the keyboard.

      Scotty: Ah, a keyboard...how quaint.

      Scotty taps keyboard slowly at first, then accelerates to Warp-
  • google labs demo (Score:3, Informative)

    by rednuhter (516649) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @09:55AM (#15113180) Homepage Journal
    they have a demo (currently down) http://labs1.google.com/gvs.html [google.com]

    To try out this demo, please follow these simple steps:

    1. Pick up the phone and call the automated voice search system at (650) 623-6706.

    2. After the prompt Say your Search Keywords, say your query to the system.

    3. Click this link and a new window will open with your voice search results.

    4. Say another query, and the new window with the search results will be updated with the new results.
  • So now I'll need to write a check to Google each time I yell "HONEY! WHERE ARE MY KEYS?" in the house?

  • Didn't Google Labs [google.com] used to have a phone-in search project some years ago that didn't go anywhere? I'm pretty sure that they did, and looking at the date of filing for the patent, it's likely that's how it came about.

    I wouldn't keep my hopes up for Google Voice Search any time soon based on that.
  • ... Echelon. I hope we can combine it with this [slashdot.org]
  • I would guess that the most immediately useful application of a voice interface to a search engine would be in facilitating searches from devices like cellphones. Right now, entering search terms in a cellphone is quite tedious. Another possible use of the underlying voice recognition technology would be voice to text conversion for chat in MMORPGs [proliphus.com] and other online games. Why? Because as voice enabled games and services like Xbox Live become more popular, the problem of "bad language" has continued to grow.
  • Don't think of voice recognition on computers - that's so 1990's.

    First off, I think patents like this are evil, and though I haven't read the details I suspect it's written broadly.

    This patent applies to telephony and devices that haven't been invented yet. How slick would it be to integrate your browser on your cell phone with Google's services? Think about the integration with Asterisk you could do. You could have Google provide driving directions based on your spoken input. Want a picture of your fav
  • by crdi (964939)
    ....covers a 'Voice interface for a search engine.' It says "A Search Engine", no names mentioned, so why are people assuming and coming to conclusions that it is google?? It could very well be other search engines
  • [Professor] Good news everyone... We have been Googled. Here's the numbers of individual hits. [Bender] Wohoo!! I win again. (singing) Bender is great, Bender is great ...
  • A start up company I once worked for already developed this idea, and proof of concept *working prototype*. The prior work provision would allow it to be an invalid patent if ever challenged.
  • Just like how Google is unveiling Writely, the Web Word Processor, which is speculated to be a cool and different from our routine MS-Word, so also, for the Mobile space it will be a totally different app. My experience suggests that its not just "e-", "v-", or "m-" nabling of technologies, it has to undergo some kind of transformation to be cool to use which ultimately makes it HOT in the market.
    Finally, I don't think US is the best market for m-search & commerce. With just 207 Million subscribers in [zdnet.com]
  • Voice recognition doesn't work properly so why bother implementing something that is "broken" from the start? Why frustrate all those users who are going to have to repeatedly say their search term all because the software can't handle their accent? The keyboard may not be the best input device ever invented but at least typed words do not have an accent. Well, at least not when the words are spelled correctly.
  • That's all fine and good, but what I really want to do is go to meatspace.google.com and type in "Kia Sportage keys" to get white balloons floating over and pointing out keys that go to a Kia Sportage within an N meter spherical radius. Bonus points if the search algorithm doesn't involve a midget that lives under the porch, rifling through everything while you're not looking. When will this happen?

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