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Technology Review reports from the Consumer Elecronics Show in Las Vegas that potential e-reader competitors to E-Ink are everywhere. The current market leader in e-book displays is greyscale-only, and it takes a long time to change the display ("turn the page"), so video applications are not possible. E-Ink says they will have a color display shipping by late next year, but it will be dimmer than the current greyscale and its response time will still be too slow for video. The wannabe competitors — Pixel Qi, Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, Liquavista, and Kent Displays — all do color and some of them can do video (Pixel Qi, Qualcomm, Liquavista), and some of them (Pixel Qi, Kent) are shipping now.
I've actually tried out the vlingo application a couple of times, and the speech recognition is surprisingly good. They trained the system on a vast number of business names and addresses (easily over a million), and thus the application of vlingo I used was for "point of interest" queries in mobile search. When their CTO said "find me a Starbuck's in " and it worked, I naturally wanted to test it on other more odd queries. Even though the server-based recognition had adapted itself for the CTO's voice (based on the caller id information of his phone), I tried "find me Caribou Coffee in Wheaton Illinois" and it got it word for word. I tried a couple more place queries and even one that was fictitious but plausible, and it worked fine: their system is not based on a fixed speech grammar outlining all possible expected utterances, but a much more flexible statistical approach based on phoneme lattices. Voice input seems very appealing for mobile search when you contrast it to keypad entry. This study of a million Google Local Mobile queries showed that it took 56-63 seconds -- a full minute! -- to enter an average query by 12 key keypad, and about half that to enter the query via a PDA with a stylus and virtual keypad. So if a speech recognition interface that does it 2-3 seconds is a huge win if the accuracy is high enough for most users. I feel vlingo is at least tantalizingly close to this level of accuracy. You can get a feel for a similar system by trying out Google's free 1.800.GOOG411, to see how it works for you.