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The Value of Speech Patents (part 2)

August 17, 2011

I’ll continue on with a few thoughts from yesterday’s blog because I got asked the question: “Why would speech patents be worth so much more than general telecom and other patents?”

There are 2 key reasons:

  1. Speech is HUGE in mobile.
    1. Look at Google/Android. I read in the Mercury News this week that Google believes 80% of its revenues will come from mobile phone search in the future. Let’s combine that with the old stat that 25% of Android search is voice search (this was a year or so ago, and it’s probably been growing). This would mean a minimum of 15% of Google’s overall revenues will come from mobile phone voice search…and this number will probably grow!
    2. Apple. I guess its common knowledge that their new iOS5 will include “Assistant” that allows a complete voice controlled user experience. This is big. This is the company that defines user experiences, moving from a follower in speech technology to a leader (even if it is Nuance tech!).
  2. Available speech patents are DECREASING. Remember when the Bass brothers started buying up silver to drive up the price? Scarcity increases price. Nuance has been “buying” speech patents at a faster rate than they are issued! Combine this with patent acquisitions by companies like Vlingo, (who spent in the 7 figures to buy up a large number of Intellectual Ventures speech patents in order to countersue Nuance,) and the available portfolio of speech patents is quite small. Finding patents with early priority dates are even scarcer.

As an interesting case in point, Sensory has a few key patents on client/server speech recognition approaches. We have a very early initial filing date from 1996 (if you want to know the patent number, drop me an email.) We went through 10 years of revisions and responses to the patent office and finally got 3 patents issued on our initial concepts of using client devices connected to more powerful servers with speech recognition (yeah that should sound familiar today, but it was a very unique idea in 1996!). These are VERY fundamental patents with a VERY early priority date. Back in the downturn of 2008 we talked to a patent auction house that gave a very thorough evaluation of the patents, and they concluded it would be the highest valued auction they had ever seen. They wanted a “reserve” price in the single million dollar digits, but we wanted it in the double million digits, so we never went forward. It just shows the importance of speech patents, and with the recent lawsuits in the mobile and speech community, speech patents have become even more valuable today!


Voice Search and Other Video’s

September 16, 2010

Google seems to be putting a bit of promotion behind the Android Voice Search capabilities with a campaign called “What You Say is What You Search.” A few months back they announced that 25% of all Android based search functions are done by voice, and now they are blogging and creating videos to promote this WONDERFUL capability. My favorite Google voice search video is the informative Mike LeBeau video that he did for Voice Actions. I like it because Mike is a real person that really works for Google and knows his stuff…more charisma than Justin Long (you know, Apple’s old Mac guy), and he’s not a paid actor.

Seems that a big part of the Google message is “IT WORKS!”…unfortunately there are a lot more video’s promoting that speech recognition doesn’t work. Searching for “speech recognition” or “voice recognition” on YouTube by most-watched videos reveals that the most popular speech videos are the mistakes or “fails”, with some of these being real demo’s by Microsoft among others. Many are pretty humorous…

Here are my favorite funny speech recognition videos:

  • The Voice-Activated Elevator: I get a special kick out of this, knowing that Sensory has been approached half a dozen or more times by elevator companies wanting to do this (and it’s always a highly confidential amazing idea that they think nobody else has ever thought of!)
  • And of course there’s the movie clips:

Sensory has produced a variety of low budget in-house videos, and although they are not very funny, they showcase our unique technologies. I’ll have my VP of Sales post a blog about these soon.