ChaCha Beats Google and Yahoo in Mobile Voice Search Tests


Mobile analyst firmMSearchGroovehas just published the results of a series of tests which show that the mobile search serviceChaChabeat out two other voice-enabled search applications on the iPhone when it comes to search query accuracy.[Update, Ed:a commenter points out that the report was actually sponsored by ChaCha]To test this, the researchers usedGoogle's own mobile applicationandVlingo for iPhone, an app that lets you search both Google or Yahoo. Oddly, they ignoredYahoo's mobile app, which also has voice search built in.

The results of their study aren't entirely shocking: if you want to be understood, ask a human, not a computer.

The Mobile Search Tests

ChaCha's mobile search servicecan be accessed both by SMS and by calling a toll-free 1-800 number. Since these tests focused on voice search, the phone-in method was used. When using ChaCha, the service identified the queries accurately in 94.4% of the cases and delivered accurate search results 88.9% of the time. Vlingo, which the researchers used to test Yahoo search, only interpreted queries correctly in 72.2% of the cases and delivered accurate results 27.8% of the time. Google, surprisingly, fared worst of all. Their mobile application only understood spoken queries in 16.7% of tests and delivered accurate results 22.2% of the time.

To test the applications, the researchers conducted two rounds of tests using both keyword search and natural language queries where they asked questions using sentences. The queries represented a cross-section of typical mobile searches in categories like navigation, directions, local search, general information, social search, and long-tail search.

It's not all that surprising to find thatChaChaoutperformed the other voice-enabled applications - after all, they have real, live humans on the other end of the line to interpret the spoken questions. What is surprising, though, is how wide the gap is in between the human-powered search and the speech recognition apps,especiallywhen contrasting ChaCha with Google.



Now search is just a call away

Google allows users to phone a toll-free number and make a query.

Sharad Nanda from Pune is a kebab (meat dish) fan. On a trip to Delhi, he wanted to savour some kebabs. He could have easily phoned his friends for the exact location of eateries. Instead, he took out his cellphone, dialed a toll-free number and asked for kebab joints in a specified location. In less than a minute, he was given a choice of three places. He has much to thank the ‘voice search’, which internet search giant Google recently introduced in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

A computer can pick out speech even amid cacophony

Using a recent development in speech recognition, it is possible to search through television news programmes provided the recognition system has been trained beforehand. PhD candidate Marijn Huijbregts from the University of Twente (Netherlands) has, however, taken things even further: he has developed Spoken Document Retrieval for audio and video files that the speech recognition system has not yet been trained to deal with [click heading for more]

Nexidia Speech Recognition Technology to Assist with Enhanced Video Search

Nexidia, provider of rich media search and speech analytics software, announced today they have been chosen by Thought Equity Motion  to augment Thought Equity’s online content tagging capabilities, enabling an enhanced, more effective video search experience to Thought Equity Motion clients.
With more content under management than anyone in the world, making Thought Equity Motion’s content accessible quickly and accurately is imperative. Thought Equity Motion already sets the industry standard in text and context driven metadata; adding phonetic-based search capabilities adds significant value to customers looking for spoken-word content. 
[click heading for more]

Yahoo OneSearch 2.0 slowly spreads voice search

On Thursday, Yahoo slipped voice recognition into the OneSearch 2.0 home-screen shortcut--available for a smattering of Nokia Series 60 phones--and in the Yahoo! Go 3.0 files for select BlackBerry, Nokia Series 40, and Nokia Series 60 models, such as the BlackBerry Curve and high-end Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones. Those using older versions of either of these apps will have to download them anew to get the chatty update.

Operating the voice search is simple--on BlackBerry, just hold down on the green 'talk' button and speak your search term. OneSearch will start scouring Yahoo's database for answers as soon as you let go. Nokia owners can hit the pencil key to get going. Those without pencil keys will launch tier search by pressing the right shortcut key (labeled Y! OneSearch) and speaking or typing into the search box that appears. [click heading for more]

The Case For Speech-to-Text Analysis In Multimedia Content Discovery

When thinking about the relevance of speech-to-text in a content discovery setting, it’s important to understand how multimedia content is currently discovered online. According to hitwise, between April 2007 and April 2008 the paradigm for multimedia content discovery has shifted significantly in favor of search engines. Why the shift? This can be explained primarily by two factors. The first is that the audience that consumes online multimedia continues to grow in terms of size and amount of content they consume regularly. As video consumption goes mainstream, one would expect that the web audience relies more heavily on search engines for content discovery, just as they do for text content. In fact, it’s not uncommon for web searches to have “audio” or “video” appended to their phrases to bias SERPs towards multimedia content. [click heading for more]

Mobile Search: Look, Ma, No Hands

No matter how the soap opera of Microsoft's (MSFT) efforts to acquire Yahoo! (YHOO) turns out, there's one area where a merger would clearly benefit consumers. Both companies have launched voice-based mobile search services, and Yahoo oneSearch and Microsoft Tellme have strengths and weaknesses that neatly complement each other.
At best, it will be a long time before these services are consolidated. In the meantime, consumers can take advantage of two interesting experiments in speech recognition. [click heading for more]