Google Mobile launched “Voice Search” in Indonesian, Malaysian, and Latin American Spanish, making Voice Search available in over two dozen languages and accents since its November 2008 launch.
“However, from day one we knew that to build the most accurate Voice Search acoustic models possible, the best data would come from the people who would use Voice Search once it launched – our users. Since then, in each country, we found small groups of people who were avid fans of Google products and were part of a large social network, either in local communities or on online. We gave them phones and asked them to get voice samples from their friends and family. Everyone was required to sign a consent form and all voice samples were anonymized. When possible, they also helped to test early versions of Voice Search as the product got closer to launch.”
Google explains, “Building a speech recognizer is not just limited to localizing the user interface. We require thousands of hours of raw data to capture regional accents and idiomatic speech in all sorts of recording environments to mimic daily life use cases.”
“For instance, when developing Voice Search for Latin American Spanish, we paid particular attention to Mexican and Argentinean Spanish. These two accents are more different from one another than any other pair of widely-used accents in all of South and Central America. Samples collected in these countries were very important bookends for building a version of Voice Search that would work across the whole of Latin America.”
“We also chose key countries such as Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia to bridge the divergent accent varieties.”