Kenn Harper: Dragon Go! is the beginning of a “truly pervasive ecosystem” for voice, location, and search

The series m-pulse just wrapped a month long inquest into the evolution of mobile voice, and hosts Rob and Peggy chose the perfect guest to send it off: Kenn Harper, Nuance Mobile Director of Product Management.

Nuance has been in the news recently due to Siri, the core technology of which was licensed from Nuance. However, Nuance also recently made noise for acquiring Swype. In her write up on MobileGroove, Peggy does a good job of tying those two stories together, with a little app called Dragon Go! and the Dragon Carousel as the connector in building the future of voice, location, and search.

Let’s dive in.

Despite Siri’s popularity, it’s clear that Nuance’s focus lies beyond fancy voice technology for mobile phones – simplifying the web on the go is the ultimate goal.

[Nuance] is focused on the impact voice will have when it is “the ubiquitous technology across all the touch points in our lives.” Against this backdrop, Siri is just a starting point. The real action kicks in when “we’re able to take [speech] technology and greatly simplify how people use a mobile phone, a tablet, a TV and their car.”

As Kenn puts it: “People are looking for a piece of information on the go; they don’t want to browse the Web. And that’s how we’ve used natural language understanding to greatly reduce the distance between what someone wants to find [on the Web] and the end result.”

How is Nuance looking to do this? By integrating speech with a bunch of other technologies to create a viable ecosystem for discovery.

In practice, Nuance “exposes its dictation technology, its search technology and its text-to-speech technology so that developers can take advantage of [integrating] speech inside their own applications.” According to Kenn, the program is just part of Nuance Mobile’s strategy to“create a truly pervasive ecosystem” that in turn creates the experiences (not just services) that enable us to choose when and how we want to use voice. “Across our platform and application efforts we want to collect a lot of data so we can make these systems more intelligent.”

The desire for a pervasive ecosystem, and its potential, are demonstrated in the Dragon Go! app, and the Dragon Carousel (check out the video above). Like Siri, Dragon Go! fundamentally alters how mobile users leverage the power of the web.

As Kenn puts it: It’s not about limiting our access to the wider Internet; it’s about “leveraging our intent” to determine which destination to display in the Dragon Carousel, or if the best content/answer of all isn’t simply the content we have stored on the device (in our personal stockpile of music, images, contacts and other digital stuff). If it’s neither then we can always access the wider Web.

So how does the acquisition of Swype play into this? More technologies properly leveraged leads to a simpler and more comprehensive experence.

Nuance has its own IP and its own strategy. It will be a while before we know just how the company plans to monetize its precision search (enabled by a comprehensive carousel of content sites). But the point is: Nuance has a model it can monetize because the Dragon Go! experience is built from the ground up to provide us convenience and choice. And Nuance isn’t only thinking voice. The recent acquisition of Swype – the technology allows users to trace their words out by “swyping” their fingers between the letters on a keyboard instead of typing – is a huge step in a much wider strategy that could move search to a new level. Connect the dots, and Nuance is building the capabilities mix to deliver us a more comprehensive experience and – more important — a choice of when we want to use voice and when we would rather use another input (such as gesture, touch or swype).

Check out the full m-pulse episode below.

Episode #7

Recorded: February 23, 2012
Hosts: Rob Woodbridge & Peggy Anne Salz

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About the author

Douglas Soltys

Douglas is the former Editor-In-Chief of Inside BlackBerry, BlackBerry Cool, and QuicklyBored, which he launched as a mobile gaming industry site. His knowledge of mobile and social media led him to a job at RIM (BlackBerry), where he got to travel the world and do lots of cool things. He is often left-handed, but rarely sinister.

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