Facebook's speech recognition efforts aimed at understanding consumer interests

Facebook targets to understand consumer interests more accurately through voice assistants.

Facebook is carving its speech recognition efforts in a way that the voice technology is at full capacity to understand multi-cultural and cross-lingual commands. With 1.2 billion active users each month, the social media platform knows what matters to each user through one's photos, videos, posts, shares, and interests.

Seeing notable competitors in the speech recognition zeroing largely on data-banking, Facebook is targeting to go beyond this ability. In an interview with CNBC, Facebook's product manager Merlyn Deng said the company is digging deeper to make the voice assistant capable of understanding people's interests through learning more languages other than English. "We want to build a deep semantic understanding of people's interests, and also of content," says Deng.

In addition, Deng stressed that Facebook's shot on voice control is geared towards the core mission of the social media platform. Facebook is home to thousands of communities from different fields and walks of life so it is going that particular way, says Deng.

In 2014, Facebook's acquisition of the Oculus Rift VR headset became the springboard of the company to kick off its speech recognition endeavours. The device was redesigned to respond to the wake-up call "Hey, Oculus" and command it with a few tasks. This similar technology works on Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR as well. Facebook's head at Applied Machine Learning Joaquin Quinonero Candela noted that speech is instrumental "to explore any interesting hands-free interfaces."

The speech recognition market has been thriving. In 2016, research firm Markets and Markets forecasted that it would go up to US$10 billion by 2022. Apart from the monetary value of the market, voice assistants have played a crucial role for internet firms to gather more accurate information from consumers. Original equipment manufacturers have the greatest advantage to use their hardware as a platform to introduce this technology.

Apple devices have Siri. Amazon Echo has Alexa. Google Home has Google Assistant. Microsoft Windows has Cortana. It is understandable why Facebook is on tail's end at this time because as a social media, it is bent on growing the platform and improving it for optimum user experience.

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