Bill Gates: Scrap Your Keyboard

Having been covering the speech space for well over a decade I am blown away to hear that Bill Gates thinks that in five years there will be more web searches done by speech technology than keyboards. This is a very bold statement and tough to swallow. It would also explain why Microsoft purchased Tellme.

But here is the fascinating part of it all. I have witnessed the speech technology industry grow and then slow to a crawl. I used to see new speech companies all the time and lately there have been few if any companies entering the space.

So if Gates is right, something huge would have to happen to enable this shift to take place without anyone else noticing.

So what will change? How is this possible? As a result of these comments can we expect dozens of new speech companies to emerge? I am not sure but will be watching very closely while remaining very skeptical that I will be able to throw away this keyboard any time soon.

But in truth, if you read between the lines, TellMe is a speech recognition service which you use with a phone. Gates probably believes we will be searching via mobile phones. It is possible I guess but I still have trouble beleiveing that speech technology will take off to this level so quickly.


  • hakan
    February 24, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Maybe, with a push forward from apple’s touching features combined, speech recognition wouldn’t be so inaccurate in sense of web browsing/searching…

  • Rich Tehrani
    February 24, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    multitouch screens combined with speech are a powerful combination for sure. Still, shifting the keyboard paradigm to a new one in five years — having more searches done with speech than a keyboard is a stretch.

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