Google improves voice search

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google improves voice search (again) for its mobile apps.

Google is using a technology called a Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) to more accurately identify what you’re saying and ignore other sounds that aren’t part of the search query. Google GOOG -1.93% is claiming better voice search on its Android and iOS mobile apps, thanks to a new approach to the artificial intelligence technique the company uses to power that capability. A blog post published on Thursday, authored by a handful of Google researchers, explains in technical detail how they pulled off the improvements, which include faster, more-accurate transcriptions and better voice recognition in noisy places. The speedier search performance is already live in Google’s search apps, so perhaps it’d be worth trying out more voice queries to see if you notice a difference. In the old model, the system would analyze 10-millisecond snippets of audio and make predictions of words based on the sounds it recognized, regardless of the order in which they were uttered.

For example, the word “museum” is broken up into / m j u z i @ m/ in phonetic notation and normally the sounds made by “j” and “u” would be difficult to separate. RNNs have feedback loops in their topology, allowing them to model temporal dependencies: when the user speaks /u/ in the previous example, their articulatory apparatus is coming from a /j/ sound and from an /m/ sound before. It’s all very complicated stuff from a computer science perspective, but is increasingly important to our everyday lives as we expect everything from our phones to our cars to be more intelligent. You’ll get to keep your current user name (as long as it doesn’t contain invalid characters, in which case you’ll have to go through a few extra steps to make the transfer), and all your old comments will eventually (not immediately) migrate with you.

If you want to learn more about how deep learning, the umbrella term for this collection of techniques, works, read Fortune‘s recent interview with Andrew Ng, the chief scientist at Chinese search engine giant Baidu BIDU 0.60% and a renowned expert in the space.

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