Google is on the verge of releasing a piece of software that could revolutionise the way search is done by using voice recognition technology to convert human speech into machine-readable data.
It beggars belief though why Google is launching what could potentially be a killer application for the iPhone, its most ambitious competitor, rather than its own Android platform.
The free application is set to appear today and although it is unlikely that the results are "read" to the users by Text to Speech converters, this is literally still the nearest thing we will have to a mobile version of HAL.
One can expect results, at least in the beginning, to be fairly inaccurate (or as in NYTimes own words, returning Gibberish queries) but expect the search giant to learn fast and reduce the learning curve for the users.
Expect Google to use its Trend feature to analyse and iron out any existing issues linked with pronunciation and local accents.
Google will certainly launch the application for other platforms including Android, S60, Blackberry and Windows Mobile (maybe even on BREW).
Google's main competitors, Yahoo and Microsoft have both had voice services for mobile phones for a while; Microsoft through the acquisition of Tellme and Yahoo, through Onesearch with Voice.
Voice recognition is still a niche market and although Microsoft has introduced speech recognition to the mainstream market through Vista, there's still much room for improvement.
Google already have a voice activated service which allows you to find and connect to local businesses for free.