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AT&T inducts Watson speech recognition for app development

The mobile carrier's speech recognition software aims to be complex enough to learn different accents, speech patterns, dialects, speaker and platform variations, and background sounds.

A visualization of AT&T's Watson

AT&T is looking for help in making its speech recognition software ultra-consumer oriented. The mobile carrier announced today that its Watson Speech application programming interfaces, or API, is now open to developers.

AT&T's Watson, not to be confused with IBM's Watson, is software that the company aims to program to learn different accents, speaker variations, background environments, platform variations, dialects, and speech patterns, according to a company blog post today.

"It's a technology that's been a long time in development and more than 600 patents in the making, and we're excited to open it up to developers and see what they make of it," wrote AT&T senior executive vice president for technology and network operations John Donovan.

According to Donovan, there are seven different categories that the company is focusing on to "benefit consumers." Developers can build apps that use the Speech API within these seven groups, which include:

  • Web Search: Search from within an app with the power of your voice. Web Search is trained to recognize several million mobile queries.
  • Business Search: Trained on tens of millions of local business entries, this context lets you transcribe your search query to let you find what's in the area, from donuts to doctors.
  • Voicemail to Text: No need to scribble down a message, this context--trained on a massive set of data acquired from call centers, mobile applications and the web--turns your voicemail into sharable text.
  • SMS: Tuned to transcribe text, this context can deliver your spoken message as text through a messaging service of your choice.
  • Question and Answer: Trained on over 10 million questions, this context accurately transcribes your question and returns the correct answer.
  • TV: Searching for show titles, movies and actors? This context transcribes your spoken search queries to enable you to search the AT&T U-verse program guide.
  • Generic: Automatically recognizes and transcribes English and Spanish languages. This context can also be used for general dictation, communication and search.

AT&T has been working on its mobile speech recognition platform for years, which has been refined by AT&T Labs and has secured more than 600 patents related to speech recognition. Watson is currently available in YPMobile and several other AT&T applications. In the future, the company hopes to make Watson APIs available for gaming and social media.