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Google Developing Voice Assistant

Google-VoiceA Siri-like voice search experience from Google seems long overdue, although the Mountain View, Calif. tech company has been testing voice search on its desktop and mobile engines for more than a year. Reports indicate that Google Assistant will debut sometime this year. Well, of course. Voice and gesture commands will change the way search marketers launch and run campaigns.

Voice activation supports Google's desktop and mobile search, but it does not allow users to follow through with sending text messages, similar to Siri, which debuted with Apple's latest iPhone, S4. While Apple continues to work out the bugs, Google will attempt to roll out a similar feature for Android-operated devices, from Google TV to smartphones and tablets.

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Patently Apple points to a Google patent application covering a voice-activated remote control the company could use for Google TV. The post provides screenshots of diagrams.

There have been other attempts at voice assistants. British-born Evi emerged in January on Android and iOS. The iPhone application can find information on the Web, accessing at launch about a "billion machine-understandable bits of knowledge and can infer trillions more when needed," but cannot complete commands on the iPhone. Ask it to send a text message to Jennifer or someone else in your address book, and Evi responds with "Sorry, I haven't learned how to do that yet. I can provide information though so try asking me something." It also provides questions to ask, such as the distance from Paris to Berlin.

To its credit, Evi searches the Web fairly well. It can provide a partial list of Google employees who have written books, as well as recipes for cherry pie. To find local restaurants, however, it wants to know your location, whether or not you list the name of the city. For example, when giving the voice command "Italian restaurants in Huntington Beach, California," Evi returned information on Zagat, Urbanspoon and Opentable.com.  

True Knowledge Founder William Tunstall-Pedoe spent 30 years studying artificial intelligence to develop the Evi app. He began writing commercial software at age 13, and wrote the software that created the anagrams in "The Da Vinci Code" book and movie. The company has secured about 10 million in venture capital to date, with Octopus Ventures as the main investor.

Come to the MediaPost Search Insider Summit in Captiva, Fla. this April, and discover how voice and gesture intersects with search on computers, mobile devices and smart TVs for marketers and advertisers. 

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