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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 23:37 GMT
Microsoft buys voice tech company
TellMe logo
About 40 million people a month use Tellme services, the firm says
Microsoft has bought a voice-recognition software firm in a move analysts say may change the way people search the internet.

The software giant has paid a reported $800m (413m) for California-based Tellme Networks - though the value of the deal was not officially disclosed.

The firm specialises in technology for call centres and directory enquiries.

Microsoft said the technology could be used across its producers as well as in the car and at home.

"Speech is universal, simple and holds incredible promise as a key interface for computing," Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said

'Bolster abilities'

Analysts predicted people would eventually use voice-driven searches on the internet, rather than typing into search engines.

Mobile phone based internet search would be an obvious application they added.

Software such as Microsoft Office does have basic voice recognition facilities but the deal would "bolster" the firm's capabilities said Microsoft business division president Jeff Raikes.

"We've made great strides in speech technologies, but have only scratched the surface of what is possible," he added.

Tellme's other existing services allow American Airlines travellers to check flight details and Dominos Pizza customers to place an order without speaking to any body.

Tellme's chief executive officer, Mike McCue said its services were used in by about 40 million people each month.

"We think you should just be able to say, 'Show me the Daily Show,' (and be) watching what you want on TV just by speaking it," Mr McCue said.

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