Siri, play me a song: The Echo Nest Teaches Nuance a Little Something About MusicSeptember 12, 2013
by Nathaniel Mott
Saying that people like to listen to music via their smartphones, tablets, and car stereos is a bit like saying that people tend to breathe when they sit, walk, or run.
It makes sense, then, that voice recognition companies like Nuance want to make it easier for people to summon their jams without having to tap a smartphone or fiddle with a knob. Nuance is today announcing a partnership with The Echo Nest, a Boston-based music data startup, in an effort to realize that goal.
“As new artists are constantly bubbling up and new collaborations are taking place, just having a canonical collection of the songs and artists and collections out there is something that we’re really maintaining,” says The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese. “Then, on top of that, it really comes down to context and having an underlying understanding of music when someone is speaking into an application.”
Beyond offering artist data — which is also used by Yahoo Music, among other companies and services — The Echo Nest will allow Nuance’s voice recognition products to cater results based on a user’s location. Lucchese uses David Hasselhoff as an example: German users are more likely to ask about the Hoff’s musical career than their American counterparts, who probably know Hasselhoff for his acting.
Nuance and The Echo Nest declined to specify which products will be accessing the music data — Nuance’s technologies are used to power its own smartphone and tablet apps, voice-activated car information systems, and Apple’s Siri, among other products and services.
Seemingly everything, from smartphones and Web browsers to game consoles and car systems, is simply waiting to hear a voice command. Because music is nearly omnipresent, teaching these devices about songs, musicians, and trends is only natural.
“We’re seeing across the board that the user interface is an important aspect of every experience,” Lucchese says. “But a lot of times people don’t want to pull out their phone and navigate through an app — they just want what they want when they want it.”