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The Amazing Race: Man vs Machine

Mon Nov 20, 2006 - 9:15 AM EST - By Jennifer Chappell


Nuance Communications, a leading provider of speech recognition systems to business and consumers, recently hosted "The Amazing Race." In this race, Nuance used their speech recognition technology to go up against the world's fastest texter.

In October 2006, Nuance Communications hosted a challenge to determine the fastest and most accurate way to send text messages and email using mobile devices. In a classic match-up of man vs. machine, Ben Cook, recently crowned the world champion of text messaging, raced against Nuance Mobile Dictation, the speech recognition technology that allows mobile phone users to create text messages using speech.

Cook, a teen from Utah, holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest entry of a 160-character standardized message on a mobile device: “The razor toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.” Cook’s previous triple tap record for the standard message stood at 42.22 seconds.

The complete Amazing Race competition featured four participants: Ben Cook using triple tap input; a competitor using T9 input; a proficient typist using a Blackberry device with a full QWERTY keyboard; and Nuance’s own staff member demonstrating Nuance Mobile Dictation.

The race really was amazing. I watched the YouTube video and really enjoyed it. In the first round, the contestants were instructed to type “I’m on my way. I’ll be there in 30 minutes.” Ben Cook was able to type out the message in 16 seconds and the Nuance staff member did it in 8 seconds. I decided to try doing it myself and had my husband time me. It took me 27 seconds and my result would have been considered a "failure" because I messed up and the first few letters turned out to be gibberish.

The Nuance staff member had the fastest time in all 4 rounds. The Nuance Mobile Dictation is very impressive. Speaking your message is so much faster and easier than trying to type it out. Mobile texters could really save some time sending messages by using this technology, not to mention those sore thumbs from so much texting. ;-)

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