Could Yap Be The Next Big Speech Recognition Player?

The speech recognition field has quietly gotten a little more crowded. Yap, a Charlotte, N.C.-based startup, today said it has been tapped to power Microsoft’s (s msft) Talk-to-Text mobile application, which Sprint (s s) offers to BlackBerry users. The app uses Yap’s web-based speech recognition technology to automatically transcribe users’ spoken words into texts and e-mails, much like services such as Vlingo.

Yap pocketed $6.5 million in a Series A round led by SunBridge Partners two years ago, and several months ago it replaced SpinVox as Cincinnati Bell’s voicemail-to-text service provider. Cincinnati Bell’s move was something of a shot across the bow of SpinVox parent Nuance (s nuan), which last week pulled the plug on SpinVox’s consumer service to focus more intensely on its carrier business.

Microsoft’s decision to license Yap’s  speech recognition technology instead of using its own is interesting considering the software behemoth bought its way onto the field three years ago with the acquisition of Tellme Networks for a reported $800 million. But it’s a clear sign that a legitimate new player has joined the giants — Microsoft, Google (s goog) and Nuance — in the speech recognition world.

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Image courtesy Flickr user DJOtaku.