BMW taps Nuance for in-car speech recognition

BMW will be the first the automaker to incorporate Nuance Communications’ new voice command and control platform into its dashboards. The German car manufacturer said today it is using Nuance’s Dragon Drive voice messaging technology in its luxury and compact sedans.

Is Ford facing off against Apple over the connected car?

A lot of automakers are lining up to support Apple’s new Siri Eyes Free technology, but Ford, the most aggressive company in the connected-car space, isn’t joining the queue. A platform war over the connected-car interface might be in the making.

For Apple, iCloud is just the beginning

Apple CEO Tim Cook said iCloud “is not just a product, it’s a strategy for the next decade.” What will that mean for a company trying to lead us all into the post-PC world? We look at possible future applications of cloud-based services from Apple.

Five big things to watch out for in 2012

What kind of amazing new things are going to happen in tech over the next 365 days? Digital design agency Fjord got out its crystal ball and let us have a preview of its annual prediction of the most important themes in tech next year.

Does the Siri outage reveal its success?

Siri went down on Thursday for its first extended outage — around five hours, according to most counts. Five hours is hardly three days (like another noteworthy recent mobile service blackout), but the reaction of media and users show Apple’s personal assistant is making its presence felt.

Why the Apple-Nuance Deal Isn’t Only for the Data Center


Rumor has it Apple is in talks with Nuance to strike a deal allowing Apple to use Nuance’s speech recognition software. One of the uses mentioned was the possibility of using the software in the new NC data center, but I don’t think it’s likely that the data center is the intended target.
The main reason relying on a voice recognition server in a data center is a bad idea is the fact that we’re talking about mobile devices. You can’t guarantee a persistent data connection on a smartphone, so whenever you don’t have a signal, you can’t use the voice recognition.
The current implementation of speech recognition on the iPhone(s aapl), Voice Control, doesn’t have this problem. Since the processing is all done on-device, you can use Voice Control whenever and wherever you like; there’s no need to have any connection to anything. Of course, Voice Control doesn’t integrate with third-party apps, but that is possibly part of what the rumored deal is about – expanding current on-device features.
Even if you do have an internet connection, there are issues with housing the tech remotely. Firstly, there’s connection speed. A 3G or Wi-Fi connection would be likely fine, but sending your audio over a GPRS or EDGE connection will take some time. If you are using voice commands to do something such as launch an app, for example, it is likely to be faster to navigate to the app yourself and launch it, rather than waiting for the speech to be sent, processed and returned. Even if you are using a hands-free system to send an SMS in the car, it might be faster to find somewhere to pull over and type the message yourself.
Another problem is data capping. If you are a frequent user of the speech recognition system, sending audio over a data connection too often will soon rack up overage charges. A possible solution to this could be compression of the audio before it gets sent to the server, but the more it gets compressed, the lower the quality, and the lower the success rate of the recognition software.
Finally, there’s the strain on mobile carriers, since all the sound files have to sent over their data networks. This extra traffic would be on top of everything that’s being sent now, so the introduction of server-based speech recognition will likely impact data transfer speeds and/or bandwidth costs.
It seems to me as if implementing the software in the data center isn’t the best way of tackling this. If Apple is indeed negotiating with Nuance(s nuan), then I think it’s likely going to be for either improving the current Voice Control feature, or for adding support for app developers to integrate their app with system-wide Nuance tech; imagine being able to control the Twitter app using voice commands, for example.
Some extremely advanced capabilities may not be possible on-device, but for the average user, basic control and dictation features would be enough. There would be no need for advanced features such as a vocabulary editor or word-by-word training, as offered in some of Nuance’s desktop voice recognition products.

Ford’s SYNC Platform Gets A Bigger Voice

MyFord Touch, the latest generation of SYNC, raises the number of voice commands from 100 to 10,000 first-level commands. How did Ford increase the platform’s vocabulary a hundred-fold? The use of aliases, which allow for a more conversational experience, play a big factor in the solution.

Jailbreak: The Poor Man’s iPhone 3GS

Having iPhone 3GS envy? Well, if you already have iPhone OS 3.0 jailbroken, here’s how to make your last-year gadget feel just a tad more like the new iPhone 3GS.

The poor man 3GS

Battery Percentage

Custom Battery Percentage IconMany users were disappointed to learn that Battery Percentage is exclusive to the iPhone 3GS, and not a general feature in iPhone OS 3.0.

There are two ways to turn on the battery percentage in the jailbroken iPhone OS 3.0.
1. Through SBSettings
If you have SBSettings installed, simply tap on “More,” then “Extras.” There you will find Enable/Disable Numeric Battery.

2. Through AsBattery
If you prefer to have the stock Battery Percentage toggle found only in the iPhone 3GS, you’ll need AsBattery. To install AsBattery:

  1. Fire up Cydia.
  2. In its “Search” section, type in iPhone-notes. What you are doing is looking for the repository that AsBattery is hosted in. Install this repository.
  3. In Cydia’s “Changes” section, look for “AsBattery” and install that.
  4. Reboot your iPhone.

Once you’re back in, the battery percentage toggle will be present in Settings ? General ? Usage. Read More about Jailbreak: The Poor Man’s iPhone 3GS