Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.com 1The Google – ITA Software dealHow Andro...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentHow it could w...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment3IntroductionG...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentWhy timing is ...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment5• Cutting mul...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentPotential vs c...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentPotential vs m...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment8Competitive i...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentSample testing...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendices10Ap...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Tra...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment12Travel vocab...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Sam...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Voi...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Voi...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment16Often prefer...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Voi...
Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.com 18About Jonathan AlfordWith 16+ years of...
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The Google-ITA Software Deal - can mobile voice recognition spark travel search innovation? - Oct 2010

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Google’s $700M acquisition of ITA has inspired good debate and sometimes illogical lobbying on risks to airfare search integrity, web traffic, advertising costs, and service to industry “frenemies”. In the cacophony of positioning as the DOJ nears conclusion, however, potential positives for consumers may have been missed. In this case, Android voice recognition is rapidly improving for natural language travel search, and integrating ITA’s airfare structure could drive welcome innovation and a better consumer travel experience.

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The Google-ITA Software Deal - can mobile voice recognition spark travel search innovation? - Oct 2010

  1. 1. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.com 1The Google – ITA Software dealHow Android voice integration with ITA candrive travel innovation and create a moreeffective consumer experienceOctober 2010Alford StrategicDevelopment
  2. 2. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentHow it could work – the basic process2Google-ITA could convert spoken natural language terms to voice objects similar to drop down selections inbooking engines, which would then integrate with the fare search query data structure. Hotel search is agreat opportunity as well.VXML 3.0Analyzes voice inputusing Speech RecognitionGrammar Specifications(SRGS) to translate to textSISRSemantic Interpretation forSpeech Recognition extractskey travel terms to convert tovoice objectsQPX fare searchVoice objects matched todata structure for fare searchquery and result processingGoogle ITA Software“Fly 1st-class Seattle to LA August 25 coming back August 28 on Virgin America”
  3. 3. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment3IntroductionGoogle’s $700 M acquisition of ITA has driven both good debate and sometimes illogical lobbying on risksto airfare search integrity, competitor web traffic, advertising costs, and service to air industry customers.There are positive opportunities, of course, and here we focus on a specific, less-publicized one thatcould have a meaningful impact in the near future:Based on our tests, Google’s Android voice recognition outperforms Bing, Vlingo and possibly otherspeech solutions in travel-focused natural language search and is almost ready for mainstream adoptionIntegrating with ITA’s airfare query structure (and potentially hotels) is a key opportunity for Google-ITAto drive industry innovation and create a better consumer travel search experience
  4. 4. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentWhy timing is right for Google’s opportunity4Travel is a strongcandidate for mobile voicesearch and multimodalengagementGoogle-ITA will have thetools to execute itSpeech recognition has seemed promising for years, but has mainly been limited to electronic voicemenus…so what technology and consumer forces are aligning with Google capabilities to enable this now?Travel lends well to speechrecognition – demonstrated inDefense Dept tests 1991-1995Smartphone penetration,processing power, and dualmicrophones growing rapidlyCloud enables network-basedspeech to process largervocabularies than embedded appsTravel planning requires relativelysmall grammar setsAndroid currently outperformsMicrosoft and Vlingo for naturallanguage voice search of travel termsIn a short period of time, 25% ofAndroid searches are already VoiceGoogle has invested heavily to trainspeech algorithmsMobile and Tablet search should be15% of searches by 2013-2014Consumers rapidly adopting voice inlocal search, car navigation, andplatforms like Microsoft KinectTechnology elementsConsumer adoption andGoogle advantages
  5. 5. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment5• Cutting multiple inefficient and redundant steps out of today’s mobile search and travel intermediary experience• Enabling consumers to bypass OTA and Metasearch competitors, who could not easily replicate it withoutconsiderable capital investment• Encouraging competitors to innovate and find other ways to improve and bring their mobile products to consumers• Prompting Microsoft and Apple to leverage their mobile platforms and alter the intermediary landscape furtherPotential high-level impactIn a sense, this is a component of a larger potential Google PC and mobile metasearch play, but italso impacts a key area of consumer experience needing improvement, and implications of leveragingthe Android platform could include:
  6. 6. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentPotential vs current mobile search experience6Speak or Typeto searchCompared to today’s mobile search experience, voice search with fare integration would be much fasterthan inconsistent text links due to SEM/SEO manipulation, redundant steps, and multiple drop-down ortyping fieldsSpeak or Touch toselect airlineSpeak or Touch toselect flightAirline / OTABookingpathPotential Voicesearch tobooking pathAirline / OTABookingpathSpeak or typeto searchRe-select“Flight”Inefficienttext linksRe-enter terms in multiple fields Flight resultmatrix or listCurrent mobilesearch to OTAmobile pathNote: Expedia used for demonstration of general steps, not to imply variance in quality relative to other OTA paths
  7. 7. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentPotential vs mobile app download experience7Open app Flight resultmatrix or listFlight detail Choose OTAor supplierComparing to downloaded mobile apps, current metasearch or OTA apps also require several additionalsteps, including multiple drop-down or typing fields and additional site selectionsMultiple text, calendar,or drop-down fieldsNote: Kayak used for demonstration of general steps, not to imply variance in quality relative to other metasearch appsCurrentmetasearchmobile app pathPotential Voicesearch tobooking pathSpeak or Typeto searchSpeak or Touch toselect airlineSpeak or Touch toselect flightAirline / OTABookingpathAirline / OTABookingpath
  8. 8. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment8Competitive implicationsOnly Google-ITA could achieve proprietary voice and fare technology integration, but Microsoft and Appleown mobile and speech platforms with a key advantage in interfacing voice search directly with consumers.OTA and Metasearch players are at risk if Google, Microsoft or Apple leverage ownership of mobileplatforms and would also need to partner with Vlingo, Loquendo, Nuance or others to embed speech.Travelport ePricingAmadeus Meta-pricerSabreVayantEverbreadExpedia BFS(if productized)Fare query platformSpeech platformMobile platformSiriiPhoneMSFT Speech /TellmeWindows Phone 7Android Android ITA SoftwareVlingoNuanceLoquendoPromptuMSFT APIAndroid SDKNoneMust distribute appsor gain search trafficthrough Android,WP7 and iPhoneplatforms
  9. 9. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentSample testing shows Android advantage and challenges9Sample - “Fly 1st-class Seattle to LA August 25 coming back August 28 on Virgin America”To evaluate the readiness of voice search platforms to handle travel-specific natural language inputstrings, we tested 140 searches on Android, Bing (Windows Phone 7), and Vlingo speech platforms (seeAppendix for specific samples).Our tests indicate Android is currently more advanced for travel, while Bing performed fairly well andVlingo was poor.Platform Noise levelKey termsuccess rate WER Queriesmean searchtime (sec)meanwordsmean errorwordsAndroid loud - Starbucks 30% 29% 20 7.4 12.4 3.6Android quiet - office 85% 4% 20 3.7 13.2 0.6Windows Phone 7 quiet - office 70% 7% 20 4.9 13.2 0.9Vlingo quiet - office 10% 15% 20 3.5 13.2 2.0Improved accuracy and search time is needed for practical use, especially in noisier environments, which we expect willoccur as dual microphone devices proliferate and cloud technology and speech training sets across all platforms improve.
  10. 10. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendices10AppendicesDefense Advanced Research Project (DARPA) Travel Planning testingTravel vocabulary size and relative speech complexity indicatorLenati voice test sample data by phone platformProjected mobile and tablet search query growth 2010-2014Voice technology provider segmentsVoice technology overview
  11. 11. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Travel planning ideal for speech recognition11Travel lends well to speech recognition, demonstrated by testing during the Defense Advanced ResearchProject (DARPA) from 1991-1995http://www.itl.nist.gov/iad/mig//publications/ASRhistory/index.htmlDARPA’s Air travel planning test:• Used multiple microphones• Word Error Rate (WER) dropped from20% to less than 3% in 5 years• Measured to be as effective as humaninterpretation
  12. 12. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment12Travel vocabulary consists mainly of finite sets of origins, destinations, dates, travel brands, and other keycategories rather than continuous or conversational speech that becomes incredibly complex in vocabulary,meaning, nuance, and dialect.• Therefore travel likely fits in the leastcomplex speech recognition type• And reduces the complexity ofcreating voice objects to match faresearch data structuresABIResearchData set vocabulary size and relative complexity by speech typeAppendix - Travel planning ideal for speech recognition
  13. 13. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Sample testing results13Vlingo was worse than expected at this pointAndroid error rate was low, and in most cases, errors did not affect relevant terms needed to create Voice ObjectsSpoken search string Text result WERSearch Virgin America flights from Seattle to San Francisco August 25 returning August 28 Search Virgin America flight from Seattle to San Francisco August 25 returning August 28 0%I want to fly to Seattle from Washington DC on October 15, returning October 20 I want to fly to seattle from washington d c on october 15th returning october 20th 0%I want to fly to Philadelphia from New Orleans on October 15, returning October 21 I want fly to philadelphia from new orleans on october 15th returning october 21st 7%Fly from Seattle to Anchorage August 25 returning August 28 Alaska Airlines fly from seattle to anchorage august 25th returning august 28th alaska airlines 0%Find flight Boston to Ft. Lauderdale August 25 returning August 28 JetBlue find flights boston to fort lauderdale august 25th returning august 28th jetblue 0%Search round-trip flight St. Louis to Phoenix January 5 to 9 search round trip flights saint louis to phoenix january fifth 29 17%Spoken search string Text result WERSearch Virgin America flights from Seattle to San Francisco August 25 returning August 28 virgin america flights from Seattle to San Francisco Aug 25th returning August 28th 0%I want to fly to Seattle from Washington DC on October 15, returning October 20 12 flight to Seattle from Washington DC on October 15th, returning October 20th 27%I want to fly to Philadelphia from New Orleans on October 15, returning October 21 Iwon to Fly to Philadelphia from New Orleans on October 15th raton October 20th 13%Fly from Seattle to Anchorage August 25 returning August 28 Alaska Airlines flights from Seattle to Anchorage Aug 25th returning August 28 Alaska Airlines 0%Find flight Boston to Ft. Lauderdale August 25 returning August 28 JetBlue flight Boston to Fort Lauderdale August 25th returning on 20 Eights Jet Blue 17%Search round-trip flight St. Louis to Phoenix January 5 to 9 round trip flight St. Louis to Phoenix January 5th 29 17%Spoken search string Text result WERSearch Virgin America flights from Seattle to San Francisco August 25 returning August 28 search virgin america flights from seattle to san francisco otis 25th return in august 28 14%I want to fly to Seattle from Washington DC on October 15, returning October 20 I want to fly to seattle from washington dc on october 15th return in october 20th 7%I want to fly to Philadelphia from New Orleans on October 15, returning October 21 I want to fly the philadelphia from new orleans on the kerber 15 return in october 21st 20%Fly from Seattle to Anchorage August 25 returning August 28 Alaska Airlines fly from seattle to anchorage august 25th attorney in august 28 alaska airlines 8%Find flight Boston to Ft. Lauderdale August 25 returning August 28 JetBlue flight boston the fort lauderdale august 25th return in august 28 jet blue 25%Search round-trip flight St. Louis to Phoenix January 5 to 9 search round trip lake saint louis to phoenix january fifth 29 17%Windows Phone 7 error rate was higher, but in many cases did not affect relevant terms
  14. 14. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Voice will help drive mobile search growth14• PC search should continue to dominate, but Mobile andTablet are also high-growth• Google owns estimated 90% of mobile query share• 25% of Android searches are already VoiceMobile, Tablet and PC search queries 2010 - 2014Both Google and Microsoft have invested heavily in Android and Windows-based Voice recognition inanticipation of Mobile and Tablet search growthSources: Morgan Stanley; Microsoft
  15. 15. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Voice technology overview15VXML manages dialogue between person and device, and version 3.0 focuses on improved mediacontrol and synchronization, identification and verification capability, improved extensibility, andbetter multimodal input architectures via use of XHTML+VoiceVoiceXMLSpeech RecognitionGrammar SpecificationsSemantic Interpretationfor Speech RecognitionSRGS identifies the sentence structure expected in the human voice responsesSISR extracts key information from voice inputs to create voice objects for applications, andexamples include airfsearch integration with ITA data structures or converting phone-basedrestaurant delivery order data into a format for order processing applicationsSpeech recognition is based on the Hidden Markov Model (HMM), with a statistical approach enabling the technology to be “trained,”decision weighting adjusted to improve accuracy, and huge data sets ideally of examples of all variations of a spoken string.Since it is unlikely any two spoken terms by different people will match, the model statistically determines what was most likely said,and the process below takes place to enable spoken terms to convert to use for applications.
  16. 16. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopment16Often preferred since response times can be faster than network-based speech and performance is notsubject to network connectivity.Though phone technology will improve and many applications are suitable for embedded speech, largevocabularies and spontaneous speech require processing and memory not yet available.Virtually unlimited processing power enables more robust capabilities in handling large vocabularyrequirements, complex continuous speech processing, and natural language inputs.Key challenges revolve around latency in data transfer, and a quick and accurate experience on mobiledevices. However, both should continue to improve consistently as technology improves.Hybrid systems combine embedded and network-based processing, offering an advantage over a straightnetwork approach as the extraction performed on the device reduces complexity that can increase errors.Network-basedSpeechEmbeddedSpeechHybrid orDistributedSpeechSpeech recognition systems can be network (cloud)-based, embedded directly into phone operating systems, or a combination of both,each of which carries advantages and disadvantages.Appendix - Voice technology overview
  17. 17. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.comAlford StrategicDevelopmentAppendix - Voice technology provider segments17Microsoft Windows Phone 7Google AndroidApple iPhone / iPad (iOS)VlingoNuanceLoquendoPromptuIBMAT&T WatsonMobile platforms with proprietary speechSpeech providers with mobile appsSpeech technology infrastructure• By owning the phone platforms and default search applications, theycould essentially control the voice search experience and market• But by owning ITA Software, only Google could create seamless voicesearch integration with airfare and potentially hotel data structures• Travel intermediaries or suppliers could partner with them, or theycould develop their own travel-specific applications• Must market to travelers to bypass default mobile search applications• Promptu owns ProntoTreno, a voice-interactive train services andbooking application in Italy, and Flights2Go, an airline services app• AT&T Watson technology is a key component of Vlingo• Travel intermediaries or suppliers could partner with them
  18. 18. Alford Strategic Development LinkedIn | (206) 734-7450 | www.maketravelbetter.com 18About Jonathan AlfordWith 16+ years of experience in consumer and business travel, hospitality, and retail, Jonathan’s workcenters on dual principles of driving a better traveler experience and advancing travel industry/companyeconomic models.Recent focus includes creating visionary product and platform strategies for global corporate travel firms,leveraging new mobile/tablet platform capabilities and themes of "consumerization" to improve travelerexperience, drive economic value to offset rising travel costs, and deliver enhanced duty of care tomitigate travel risks as emerging economies shift.Recognized thought leadership influencing disruption of airline industry WiFi and digital entertainment(manifested in current advancements in both in-flight and "outside the flight" experience) and promotingvoice recognition technology impact in mobile travel search and itinerary management.Jonathan was awarded an Olympic Order of Excellence for executive program and Games-wideoperations management at the 2002 Winter Olympics, judged best-managed Games in history.He is a graduate of The Johnson School at Cornell University and the University of Virginia.About Alford Strategic Development
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