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Top Secret Speech-to-Text Phone No Longer a Secret

zumbaFrank, one of our readers, noticed that lately I’ve been thinking about replacing my first-generation iPhone. He shot me a link to the BBC site, where they’ve uncovered a top-secret phone project. My curiosity got the better of me, plus I haven’t met a link that I couldn’t click…aside from obvious spam and scams, that is. Color me impressed with the video I saw.

The phone itself isn’t a looker although it reminds me of an iPod, but the interaction features are interesting. Created by a company that specializes in creating military equipment, the Zumba Lumba phone is two pieces: a think handset for the guts and a rather large earpiece that fits over your ear. The innovation here is that you don’t use the handset for much other than the processing and voice bits. Interaction is done by voice with the earpiece. Receive a text message and the phone will whisper it in your year. Want to respond via text message? Simply press a button and speak your message.

Your contacts aren’t even stored on the phone. They’re managed online and the phone grabs the data it needs when required. Dean McEvoy, the company CEO, says the phone is useless to anyone else if you lose it. I’m assuming that’s because there’s little to no data on the phone and it can’t make calls without your authorization. It probably won’t be out when I’m ready for a new handset, but the text-to-speech bit sounds incredible. For now, I’ll have to stick with using the free Melodis Dialer on my iPhone, which is amazingly accurate, but doesn’t let me compose a text message by speech. Thanks Frank!

One Response to “Top Secret Speech-to-Text Phone No Longer a Secret”

  1. So to summarize, untested, unproven vaporware product that incidentally looks like crud.

    I’ve dabbled with speech recognition, and even with lengthy training and babying, running on a quad core PC with CPU power up the wazoo, Dragon 10 is only somewhat accurate – under ideal conditions, with a great mic, and in a silent environment.

    It’s a far cry from recognizing a name in a phonebook to entering freeform text via speech reliably under all the conditions a phone will find itself.

    Essentially… I’m hugely sceptical of this thing, I don’t believe it can deliver what they promise and even if it should work I don’t for a second believe it will work reliably and cleanly every time.

    And… what utter moron came up with “Zumba Lumba”? Who is the inventor – Willy Wonka?

    “Hey guys, look at my new phone! It’s a Zumba Lumba!” ….