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IBM, Nokia team up for voice applications

The companies are working together to develop voice-recognition applications for cell phones and other portable devices.

IBM and Nokia announced today they are working together to develop voice-recognition applications for cell phones and other portable devices.

Nokia, the world's largest cell phone manufacturer, licensed IBM's ViaVoice Directory Dialer, which allows cell phone users to dial phone numbers using voice commands.

Nokia has lately intensified its efforts to get new Internet-enabled smart phones to market. The Finnish company recently licensed Palm Computing's Palm operating system to use in future cell phones.

Last week, Nokia beat analysts earnings expectations, posting third-quarter earnings of 56 cents per share, with sales of mobile phones up 58 percent over the same period last year.

Industry observers predict that in the near future, Internet-based information and services will be accessed from Web-enabled cell phones. The logistical details of how users will easily interact with these devices and efficiently find the information they need has led some to look to speech-recognition as a potential problem-solver.

"The speech interface will become an important, integrated part of future personal mobile terminals and a wide variety of communications services," Juhani Kuusi, senior vice president of Nokia's research center, said in a statement.

However, voice recognition companies still have some kinks to work out when it comes to accuracy and simplicity. In fact, Palm Computing and Handspring co-founder Jeff Hawkins recently dismissed speech technology as too clunky for most cell phone or digital organizer users.

IBM today also announced its participation in the audio specification for digital recorders, dubbed the Voice Technology Initiative for Mobile Enterprise Solutions (VoiceTIMES). The technology specification is designed to drive speech recognition as a standard data input method for all mobile devices, the company said.

"By forging innovative relationships with industry leaders such as Nokia, IBM is making it easier for the increasing number of mobile users to gain access to information anytime from anywhere," Ozzie Ossborne, general manager of IBM's speech group, said in a statement.

"Our goal in continuing these industry relationships is to accelerate the growth of speech recognition beyond the PC and make it easy to use on any mobile device."