Nuance’s “Dragon” Brings Voice-Activated Search To OfficeDrop’s Document Management Service

Document management provider OfficeDrop has a new capability for voice-activated search that represents just the start in how mobile apps are changing with the advent of natural-language, speech-recognition technology. The service is built on Nuance, the Boston-based company that has developed a speech-recognition service.

In the new version of the iOS app, OfficeDrop connects to Nina, Dragon, which interprets the voice command and converts to text. OfficeDrop then understands the semantics and matches to what you have in your files. This is what makes Nina’s Dragon’s service so universal – it’s the simple task of converting the voice to text. What an app does with that text is where the innovation comes in. In OfficeDrop’s case, it’s the sophisticated OCR and search database already built into the app that makes the connection seamless.

Update: Aaccording to Nuance, OfficeDrop used the Dragon SDK, not Nina. OfficeDrop confused the two SDKs in our briefing.

The Dragon SDK is  the precursor to Nina, which stands for Nuance Interactive Natural Assistant. It uses speech recognition technologies and voice biometrics to identify a user. It has an understanding of natural language and the user’s intent to “deliver an interactive user experience that not only understands what is said, but also can identify who is saying it.” It is meant for the enterprise market with use cases in customer service and IT support.

In a recent blog post, Opus Research’s Dan Miller writes that applications developers can tailor the Nina experience to fit specific business requirements. For instance, insurance and financial services specialist, USAA, will put Nina into service to assist its increasingly mobile roster of military veterans and active service personnel.

The Nina SDK is available for download. Apple Siri, on the other hand, remains locked down. A Siri app is not expected anytime soon.

By integrating Dragon, Nina, OfficeDrop becomes one of very few companies in the market to use voice search, but the market should open up considerably.

Miller writes there are now more than two dozen firms aiming to compete in the virtual assistant market. These are companies such as VirtuOZ, Anboto, NextIT, Expert Systems, Artificial Solutions and VoiceBox. These companies “leverage expertise in customer care analytics, artificial intelligence or automated chat with an eye on revolutionizing self-service with virtual personal assistance.”

The market will change considerably over the next few years, as voice becomes more deeply embedded into mobile apps. If it can stay ahead of the pack, OfficeDrop could establish itself as one of the most sophisticated apps in the business market.