Nuance Beats Apple to Voice Activated TV

You’ve probably heard of Nuance’s Dragon dictation software, even if you haven’t used it before. It’s known as a remarkably accurate speech recognition program that allows users to use speech to create documents and emails, launch applications, open files, and more.

Moving from computers to other entertainment systems is a natural evolution of speech recognition software, so it’s no surprise that Nuance has created Dragon TV, which is designed to allow users to activate television features – like channel changing and volume – with voice commands.

To be honest, I’m surprised that voice activated TV wasn’t implemented years ago. Speech recognition is not new, so why have we been suffering through remotes for so many years? In case you didn’t know, Nuance technology is licensed by Apple for use in some of its products, aka the iPhone 4S and Siri.

Nuance’s new Dragon TV promises to be everything we’ve fantasized about. It will allow users to speak channel numbers, station names, and show and movie names to find content. It will also search through TV listings by actor and genre, to make finding decent TV shows a simple task.

Here’s a few examples of how the software can be used:

  • “Go to PBS”
  • “What’s on Bravo at 9 p.m. tonight?
  • “When is Ellen on?”
  • “Watch Dexter on DVR”
  • “Find comedies with Vince Vaughn”

Of course, with any connected platform, it includes social networking. Users will also be able to use commands like these:

  • “Send message to Julie, ‘Old School is on TBS again this weekend – super excited”
  • “Send update to Facebook, ‘Anyone else looking forward to Celebrity Wife Swap?”
  • “Call John via Skype”

The Dragon TV platform  is designed to work with a wide range of connected TVs and set-top boxes. Apple is supposedly working on a smart TV with Siri integration, but such a TV won’t be available for quite some time, and, of course, it’s proprietary and expensive. Nuance’s Dragon TV is already able to work with a number of devices (every mainstream device and OS on the market, the company claims) and is sure to be more immediately accessible. Hopefully we’ll see it soon – I’m ready to toss my remotes in the trash.

About Juli: Contact me via Twitter: @julipuli

  • Anonymous

    Nuance and Siri are both spinoffs of Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Apple bought Siri and retooled it into the iPhone’s OS.

    • Juli Clover

      Yep. But Apple also uses Nuance technology for Siri’s transcribing capabilities, among other things. The app also used Nuance before Apple ever bought it.

  • Anonymous

    Are you posting from the spec sheet or the stuffs you mentioned really work competently?

  • James Douglas

    This is the dawn of VATV!

  • Anonymous

    The headline implies that Apple actually intends to release a speech activated TV.  This assumption is just conjecture.  Even so, it remains to be seen if speech control of television is practical.  It could well turn out that, as has happened in other areas of technology, even if Apple isn’t first to do so, its implementation will be best.