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Vlingo raises $20 million from Yahoo for mobile voice app

Yahoo leads a hefty investment in the speech-recognition technology company, furthering its ambitions on the mobile phone.

Yahoo's still pushing hard on mobile technology, despite the potential distraction of a Microsoft takeover bid.

Yahoo this week led a $20 million investment in Vlingo, a speech-recognition technology company. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company also said that Vlingo will power the voice capabilities of the mobile oneSearch service, a search engine optimized for the phone.

To use the voice-search service, which will be available immediately, people must first download the Vlingo client. (It currently works only on select BlackBerries, but Yahoo said it will be available soon on other mobile phones.) With the application, users can voice queries, such as "What is the best place to play craps in Las Vegas?" into the phone, and they will receive a set a search results on their mobile phone browser.

The two-year-old Vlingo, based in Cambridge, Mass., raised the $20 million in a second round of financing, which also included the company's previous backers, Charles River Ventures and Sigma Partners.