Part of the Voice over IP (VoIP) glossary:

What is voice search?

Voice search is a speech recognition technology that allows users to search by saying terms aloud rather than typing them into a search field. The proliferation of smart phones and other small, Web-enabled mobile devices has spurred interest in voice search.

Applications of voice search include:

  • Making search engine queries.
  • Clarifying specifics of the request.
  • Requesting specific information, such as a stock quote or sports score.
  • Launching programs and selecting options.
  • Searching for content in audio or video files.
  • Voice dialing.

Although voice search is usually built as a software application, it can also be built as a service. Voice search applications such as Google Mobile App with Voice and Vlingo for iPhone rely on speech recognition programs. The free voice search service ChaCha, however, uses another approach. ChaCha employs human beings, called guides, to look up queries and provide search results. According to a July 2009 study by MSearchGroove, the accuracy of search results from ChaCha’s guides was much higher than those from either speech recognition program..

Learn More About IT:
> The Voice Search Conference website offers background information and news about voice search.
> RealWire has more information about how human-enabled voice search outperformed its algorithm-based counterpart.
> Kate Greene writes about voice search in 'How Google's Ear Hears,' on Technology Review.

This was last updated in July 2009
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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