Google Granted Voice Search Patent

Google may be working towards providing a method for users to make searches on the Web simply by speaking commands, according to a recent patent filing. Although filed in February 2001, the voice search patent was approved and published on Tuesday.

According to the patent abstract, Google's system would use voice recognition technology to build keywords that are entered into the search engine. "The system then provides the weighted boolean query to a search system and provides the results of the search system to a user," the filing states.

A demo of "Google Voice Search" was available through Google Labs, the company's online testbed, although it had been removed as of Thursday. That service allowed a user to call a telephone number, state a query, and then receive the results through their Web browser.

It is not clear if the technology behind the demo is what Google was patenting. Also, Google warned about reading too much into the filing, as it said it frequently patents ideas that employees come up with. Not all inventions make it to a final product, the company notes.

However, Google executives have publicly discussed using voice recognition to enhance the service in the past, which hints that some kind of speech technology could be coming to Google in the near future.

Additionally, Kai-Fu Lee, the executive Google hired away from Microsoft last year, worked at the Redmond giant in the area of speech recognition. Competitor Yahoo is also hiring people to work on voice-related projects, resulting in a lawsuit from Nuance Communications.

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