Speech-Recognition Company "Travelling Wave" Goes After Small, Crowded Niche

Every once in awhile you find a company that has the odds stacked against them. TravellingWave, which occupies a three-room office just outside of downtown Seattle, has just five employees, including the founders, and is the highly competitive space of trying to figure out how to use voice recognition, which has historically been plagued by inaccuracies, as a way to input information into small devices. To boot, the company's list of competitors includes such giants such as Microsoft ( NSDQ: MSFT) and IBM, but also public companies like Nuance Communications. Founder and CEO Ashwin Rao said it perfectly: "We are in a small niche that's a crowded market. It's dumb unless we have a solid differentiator."
As a company with one year under its belt and a couple of unofficial years, Rao gave me a sneak peak of an announcement it plans to release today that may just be the thing that can put the company on the map. To date, it's big differentiator has been combining voice-recognition with some texting. For instance, when sending an SMS, a user would first speak the word "hello," and then hit the "h" key, which would bump up the software's accuracy. If a person came a long a word that proved more difficult, they would keep typing letters of the word until it was recognized. With one letter, the accuracy increases to 90 percent, with two letters, it's 95 percent, and with three it becomes 99 percent, they claim. In addition, they say people input three times faster with four times less key presses. [click heading for more]