Nokia unveiled plans to install a voice-to-text feature on its upcoming Windows Phones, as the company looks to brighten its fortunes by catching up in the smartphone market.
The voice-recognition feature will allow Nokia users with new Microsoft phones to read and send texts verbally, according to Chris Weber, president of Nokia USA. It’s unclear whether the first Nokia Windows phone, which may be unveiled at an August 17 Nokia-Microsoft event, will contain the technology.
He demonstrated the new technology to attendees at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars, calling it “a game changer” that may help prevent unsafe driving.
Weber said he used the feature as he drove his son to school in Seattle, adding, “I ended up doing 17 text messages and I never touched the phone.”
A self-confessed, erstwhile texter while driving, Weber says he appreciates the benefits of technology that lets him read, compose, send or ignore messages by voice while he drives.
Besides making the roads safer, Nokia’s voice-to-text feature may improve the company’s standing in the mobile market. According to Weber, about 35 percent of users and growing are buying smartphones in the U.S., and Nokia must edge its way into this crowd if it wants to remain a powerful player in the field.
Nokia was slow to adopt smartphone technology as consumers shifted to app-centric touch screen devices, but its partnership with Microsoft aims to reverse that trend. Nokia’s future phones are set to contain Windows’ Mango-updated software, which features the voice-to-text technology, among other features.
As both Nokia and Microsoft strain to get ahead in the smartphone race, features like verbal texting could give them a much-needed energy boost.