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Spoken-Word Search
How do you find one specific song on an MP3 player that holds thousands? You might try scrolling through menus or using a tiny keyboard to type in search terms – but researchers at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL) in Cambridge, MA, have a better idea: use your voice instead. A Mitsubishi team led by Peter Wolf has developed a voice recognition algorithm called SpokenQuery that lets a user find music simply by saying the name of a song, band, or album–or any combination of the three. Unlike many existing voice-recognition programs, which have set menus and require users to stick to a predefined syntax, SpokenQuery allows the user to put the words in any order and even use partial names. The technology could make it possible to search for not only MP3s but also, for instance, television shows or driving directions simply by saying a few words, says Wolf. The researchers are working to pare down the algorithm’s memory requirements so it can run on many different devices.

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