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Vlingo, a Cambridge, Mass, speech recognition company, has just launched an awesome voice-powered interface for Blackberry smartphones.
In a recent post about speech-to-SMS provider Yap, we posited that the ultimate mobile interface would let us navigate a phone using a combination of voice and manual input. Yap’s goal was to get there eventually. But Vlingo, which launches such an application today, has left Yap — and even Microsoft’s heavyweight TellMe — choking on dust.
While voice-activated search and directory services have been around for a while — TellMe launched its version last year and the voice-recognition giant, Nuance, has one, as well — Vlingo combines these handy search features with the ability to call and dictate texts or e-mails to anyone in your address book and open applications like your calendar or map.
When I watched the video demonstrating what Vlingo could do (see below), I felt the first pang of phone-related envy to hit me since I defected from Blackberry to iPhone all those long months ago.
Vligno recently raised a $20 million round of funding led by none other than Yahoo, who had previously tapped Vlingo to power its voice-activated oneSearch application. First round investors Charles River Ventures and Sigma Partners participated, as well. All things considered, this investment may represent Yahoo’s single best move over the last few months — though admittedly, that’s not saying much.
Perhaps threatened by Vlingo’s agility and success, Nuance has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against the young start-up, an all too typical move for big companies who can’t stand the competition.
Blackberry Pearl, Curve, and 8800 users can go here to download the new app, free of charge.