Speechmatics and what3words Debut New Voice Navigation API
Voice technology developer Speechmatics and navigation software platform what3words debuted a new API combining their technology at CES this week. The API uses Speechmatics’ speech recognition to turn a spoken three-word phrase into GPS coordinates and an address through what3words.
The location technology created by what3words divides the world into three-meter squares with unique three-word addresses. People can determine where they are and where they are going to a precise level using those three words. With Speechmatics, the system is now able to use voice to determine what location people are looking for. The idea is that the three-word system will be much more efficient than standard addresses, which can confuse a voice navigation tool if not spoken in exactly the right way. The Speechmatics integration also opens up what3words to more languages. The API functions in eight languages currently, but Speechmatics offers 30 different languages and can add them to what3words as the platform expands.
“Speechmatics allows companies to innovate with voice and what3words is one of those companies truly innovating,” Speechmatics CEO John Milliken told Voicebot in an interview. “It’s a perfect marriage and squares with where we are looking to go with the company with innovative use cases. It’s a really good opportunity for us to get something to the market with real commercial benefit.”
The technology developed by what3words is already used with other voice technology. For instance, cars built by Mercedes-Benz, Ford, and Tata all apply what3words to their navigational tools. The difference is that those companies had to build a voice platform to slot the navigation technology into. With the new API, the plan is to make that development faster and easier for companies to complete.”
“It’s useful for automotive and motorcycle manufacturers who want the benefit of quality navigation but don’t want to go through the rigamarole of different providers,” Milliken said. “They can now have a high quality fast to market solution.”
Though what3words is very precise, the prospect of better navigation by voice is being explored by the big names in voice assistants as well. Google, in particular, has been testing out ways of applying its widely used Maps to its voice services. Most recently, it connected its Maps and Translate products so that Google Maps will automatically translate and recite out loud the name of a place and its address in the local language. It also created a new walking directions system for people with visual impairments, offering more detailed directions and prompting the user with information during the journey. Speechmatics and what3words may have an edge over potential competitors in precision and understanding in their API, but the map of the voice navigation market is still being drawn.