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IDF 2012: Intel teams up with Nuance for Ultrabook voice recognition

Dell XPS 13

Looking to compete with Google and Apple’s own voice features

Beyond the usual raft of processor announcements at this year’s IDF conference, Intel also revealed it has enlisted voice recognition experts Nuance to add voice control to the next generation of Ultrabooks. The Dragon Assistant Beta is built on the same core voice technology as Nuance’s existing Dragon dictation software, with extra optimisations to make searching the web easier.

In a similar manner to Google’s Now voice search or Apple’s Siri assistant, Dragon Assistant will automatically perform a search when you ask it to, regardless of the application you’re currently in. Saying “Hello Dragon” will activate the assistant, from which point you’ll be able to use natural speech to search the web. When finished, saying “go to sleep” will stop the application.

Intel first announced its partnership with Nuance at this year’s CES trade show in Las Vegas, but Dragon Assistant Beta is the first combined effort to be unveiled to the public.

Expected to launch over the coming months, Dell’s XPS 13 will be among the first Ultrabooks to ship with Dragon Assistant Beta pre-installed. Other manufacturers are expected to follow suit, although it’s not clear whether Intel has decreed the software must be installed in order for a laptop to be classified as an Ultrabook.

Considering Ultrabooks all have keyboards, we aren’t sure whether voice search will be a welcome addition or superfluous extra that won’t get used – however, it makes much more sense in touchscreen tablets, so we’ll wait to see if Intel reveals any plans for Windows RT in the future.