Microsoft today announced an update to Bing for Windows Phone that focuses on voice search. The improvements mean results now come back twice as fast as before while accuracy has been improved by 15 percent, according to the company’s own tests.
Microsoft says these enhancements are the result of the Bing and Microsoft Research teams’ work with Deep Neural Networks (DNNs). For those who don’t know, DNNs are inspired by the functioning of neurons in the brain to recognize patterns and as of late have resulted in impressive language translation leaps among other advancements.
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Here are the Bing voice search improvements in action:
By coupling Microsoft Research’s breakthroughs with the large datasets provided by Bing’s index, the two groups managed to get the DNNs to learn more quickly and help Bing voice capabilities get noticeably closer to the way humans recognize speech. Microsoft also made a few improvements under the hood that allow Bing to more easily identify speech patterns and cut through ambient and background noise.
While this is certainly a big jump, unfortunately the speed and accuracy changes are only available to US users. Microsoft wouldn’t say why the constraint exists (though we’re betting it’s due to limited resources for just one language) nor when it plans to expand the advancements to more languages.
In fact, Microsoft Research suggests that this won’t be as difficult or time-consuming as you might expect:
Interestingly, the researchers also have discovered that DNNs can learn across languages. This is of critical importance, because speech recognizers must be trained on huge amounts of example speech data—thousands of hours of it—and the burden of transcribing such voluminous files can be reduced significantly when data from one language can help improve accuracy for another.
The good news is that Microsoft says “this is only the beginning of Bing’s work to improve speech and voice capabilities” across the company’s devices and services. In other words, wherever you see Bing now, expect it to get a few updates in the next few weeks and months thanks to innovations from Microsoft Research.
Top Image Credit: icava Technologies