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New iRunway Research Report Shows a Dominant Position for Microsoft in Speech Recognition After Cortana Launch

Report Details Critical Patent Holdings in Linguistics Technology, Reveals New Waves in Application of Speech Recognition in Mobile Devices & Automobiles

AUSTIN, TX (US), September 10, 2015

iRunway, a technology research firm specializing in patent licensing and litigation, has released a new report that analyzes the leading patent holders in speech recognition technology.

The report -- which provides proprietary data on companies that control the most patents and the most seminal (strong) patents – reveals that Microsoft holds a dominant position in this space. While technology developers such as Nuance Communications have assembled a large speech recognition technology patent portfolio in recent years, Microsoft has focused on developing linguistics technology, building massive dictionaries of vocabulary through neural networks and cloud-based architecture.

It appears that linguistics may be the key to reducing processing time and providing a more seamless user experience with virtual assistants. Cortana, available in the recently launched Windows 10, uses its linguistics advantage to tailor interactions to local languages, customs and cultures, and to corresponding nuances of speech.

“Recent virtual assistants such as Siri have demonstrated the promise of speech recognition and voice-enabled processes in mobile devices,” said Animesh Kumar, Chief Solutioning Officer for iRunway. “Cortana will amplify this. Microsoft may enjoy a significant edge over competitors through its dominant position on critical linguistics patents. As companies fight for a market share in this space, we will see a significant increase in litigation and licensing.”

iRunway’s report examines the overall speech recognition patent landscape, and provides an overview of key audio signal processing techniques. It identifies the IP strengths and weaknesses of top companies and offers an in-depth analysis of two widely used applications of speech recognition technology – mobile devices and automobiles.

Microsoft, Nuance Communications, AT&T and IBM lead the list of top patent holders in this space. While Microsoft owns the largest patent portfolio in linguistics technology, 15% of which is seminal, Nuance Communications dominates the recognition category with 8.5% seminal patents. Meanwhile, Sony owns 7.4% of seminal patents in storage and transmission technology.

At least 172 seminal patents belonging to the leading 10 seminal speech recognition patent owners will expire in 2016, bringing them into public domain. This will likely prompt a new wave of development in the speech recognition space with a dramatic impact on the application of this technology. Licensing costs will likely drop and speech recognition technology will be more readily available to the larger market.

Mobile devices are leading tools using voice commands. iRunway’s analysis found 3,209 patents related to application of speech recognition technology for mobile devices. AT&T, Nuance Communications, Microsoft, IBM and Google are the key patent holders in this space. Importantly, Apple does not have a large speech recognition patent portfolio and it licenses patents from other industry leaders, including Nuance Communications that powers Siri.

The automobile industry is witnessing a new wave of research and development in speech recognition technology. Until recently, automobile manufacturers depended heavily on technology developing companies such as Microsoft and Nuance Communications. However, in recent times, manufacturers have begun researching and developing this technology in-house. Denso, General Motors and Honda are a few manufacturing companies that lead the list of patent owners in this space.

While Apple and Google have emerged as the two major players vying for a large market share with their CarPlay and Android Auto speech-controlled infotainment systems, Nuance, Microsoft, Alpine Electronics and AT&T are leading the effort in developing patented technology that cancels environmental noise to enhance user experience in an automotive environment.

Click to download report

About iRunway

iRunway helps corporations, law firms and universities unlock and protect the value of patents by combining technology expertise with practical business insights to monetize patent portfolios and improve litigation outcomes. iRunway has offices in Austin, Santa Clara, Denver, New York and Bangalore (India). For more information about the company’s consulting model and in-depth analysis, visit www.i-Runway.com

George Shea
(212) 627-5766