GOOG-411 Google's Free Talking Phone Search

GOOG-411 (or, more completely, 1-800-GOOG-411) is a new beta service offering from search engine megacorp Google. Just say what you want, and Google does its best to hook you up with it - for free. That's right - your 411 is free.

(GOOG-411 - Just ask for what you want via cellphone)

GOOG-411 is a fully-automated local search service; just dial the number, and tell the service where you are (city and state). Then, say the general category of what you want (for example, "restaurants"). Then, state your food preference (say, "pizza"). GOOG-411 uses voice-recognition software to determine your needs.

Once it has this data, GOOG-411 searches through Google's regular local search information to find what you want, and then let you decide what sounds good over your phone.

Once you've made your choice, GOOG-411 will connect you to the business and even provide you with a Google map and directions via SMS or email.

I've tested this service in relatively noisy environments (like airports) and the voice recognition seems to work very well, despite being a beta program.

I'm constantly looking for my favorite science fictional devices in the real world, and GOOG-411 is testing a key enabling technology for the holy grail of PDAs, the joymaker from Frederik Pohl's prophetic 1965 classic The Age of the Pussyfoot.

The list of predictions associated with the joymaker is impressive:

The joymaker was shaped somewhat like a small scepter - it had no display and no keyboard. It had a voice-activated interface and full voice-recognition. Eliminating the need for a display and a keyboard is a key advancement - you can't use regular Google - even from a cellphone - when behind the wheel of your car, for example.

...the programmed software includes procedures for translating most normal variations of voice, idiom, accent, and other variable modalities into a computer-oriented sim-script and thence into the mathematical expressions on which the computers operate.
(Read more about Frederik Pohl's joymaker)

GOOG-411 seems to be bringing us closer to the age of the pussyfoot.

Find out more about GOOG-411 Google Local Voice Search.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/23/2007)

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