The new iPhone 3G S brings us, amongst other features, Voice Control. Paul Rawlings and Paul Kinlan, the guys behind some cool Twitter apps, now take Voice Control to a whole new level: Vooices is a phone controlled, real-time, multiplayer application platform for screens in public spaces or for games and applications on the internet.
The concept is as simple as it is brilliant and somewhat difficult to describe in writing. If you’ve got a moment, try it yourself.
Note to our international audience: To dial into the game from outside the United Kingdom, use +44-20-7084-0778 and from within the US dial +1-412-927-0252.
Though the showcased game is very basic it demoes a pretty nice application of multi modality and technically, it’s one of the most seamlessly integrated Web + Telephony apps I’ve seen so far. In a more advanced demo you can control a Google Map with your voice.
The really cool bit is that Vooices provides you with a free API thus giving you all the tools to speech enable your own applications and games solely using Web technologies.
Anyone can then leverage voice control and have their application react when people dial into it. According to Paul Rawlings it will be a simple process to integrate speech control into an app. When creating Vooices applications, developers set up their voice speech and button commands and map these to application functions. Vooices will also allow users to upload their own audio files to play to the end user when the game starts and ends or leverage the text to speech engine in case high quality audio material is not available.
Version 1.3 of the API has just been launched. Go to the developer site, request an invite code and start building your own solution within minutes. Getting started is utmost simple with the application wizard:
How does this work behind the scenes?
When a user dials a game, if Vooices hasn’t seen them before then it creates a central account on the Vooices server for the inbound number. When the user plays the game or uses the application, Vooices then stores all interactions, high-scores, etc. against the created account.
If the game supports it, then a user can redial into a game at another time/location and pickup from where they left off, use their created avatar to represent them or consume other user data that is accessible via the Vooices API. This is optional in the development API when creating a game.
High-scores and player profiles will be visible in the soon to launch Vooices Player Portal where users can customize accounts, create avatars and characters to use in games, challenge each other and share their scores and game plays on twitter.
Support for Multi Player gaming
Vooices also support multi player gaming where users can play against each other in a number of ways dependant upon the game they are playing.
An example would be that there could be a game on a large screen where multiple people dial into the same screen and all play using separate characters that have been either generated for them or that they have created in their account on the web. So a bit like Bomberman. Once the game is over, if set, Vooices can then re-interact with the user by sending them a piece of content that is specific to either what has happened on the game or to the location that the game is being played in.
For example if the game is being played on a screen in London Euston, a voucher for a shop in the station could be sent to the phone if the player scored over a certain amount.
Essentially the Vooices API will allow developers to
- Control game and application movements via speech
- Control game and application movements via the phone keypad
- Create multi-player voice controlled games
- Keep track of members profiles, games and usage
- Keep track of high scores across games
Games are an obvious first use case category for the Vooices services, but once the developer APIs will be released, we might soon see advertising, voice authentication, paid content and voting solutions.
What do we think?
The ideas and concepts behind Vooices offer a pretty compelling value proposition for multi modal services for the Web and beyond. We could only tip the surface of the Vooices API in the short time we had since its launch and are intrigued with what it promises.
We’ve seen many Twitter and real-time Web related technologies lately. It’s been fun to explore something completely different. We are looking forward to hearing more of the innovative applications that the developer community will start to build with the Vooices.us toolset.
We definitely put Vooices on our watch-list and encourage you to do the same.