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SpeechBot was a web search engine for streaming media content[1] developed at Compaq's (later HP) research laboratories in Cambridge, MA and Australia.[2] Compaq launched the website at Streaming Media West 1999 in San Jose, CA.[3][4][5] The internet radio shows indexed by SpeechBot included The Motley Fool, Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation, The Dr. Laura Program, and Dreamland with Art Bell. By June 2003, the service had indexed over 17,000 hours of multimedia content. The website was taken offline in 2005, after HP closed their Cambridge research lab.[6]

The SpeechBot indexing workflow involved a farm of Windows workstations that retrieved the streaming content; and a Linux cluster running speech recognition to transcribe the spoken audio. The web server, search index and metadata library were hosted on AlphaServers running Tru64 UNIX.

If transcripts were already available, then these were aligned to the audio stream; otherwise, an approximate transcript was produced using speech recognition. The Calista recognizer that was used was derived from Sphinx-3. Due to the low quality of streaming audio at the time, the word error rate was quite high, but most searches were still able to retrieve relevant hits.[7] The search results linked to the offset in the stream that corresponded to the search phrase, so that users did not need to listen to the entire program to find the section of interest.


  1. ^ Gibbon, David C.; Zhu Liu (2008). Introduction to video search engines. Berlin: Springer. pp. 226–227. ISBN 3540793364. 
  2. ^ Kaye, Byron (10 January 2000). "Australian research gives Compaq a voice". PC World. 
  3. ^ "Compaq Unveils First Website for Indexing Spoken Streamed Media; SpeechBot Research and Development Site Furthers Innovation Leadership.". PR Newswire. 7 December 1999. 
  4. ^ Leung, Linda (8 December 1999). "Compaq's Speechbot site is an Internet first". V3. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Notess, Greg (March 2000). "Internet Search Engine Update". ONLINE. 
  6. ^ Price, Gary (4 November 2005). "Multimedia Searching: Speechbot is No Longer Available". Search Engine Watch. 
  7. ^ Mang Shou, X.; Sanderson, M.; Tuffs, N. (2004). "The relationship of word error rate to document ranking". Proceedings of the AAAI Spring Symposium Intelligent Multimedia Knowledge Management Workshop: 28–33. ISBN 1577351908. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Swain, Michael J. (March 1999). "Searching for Multimedia on the World Wide Web" (PDF). Compaq Technical Report. CRL 99/1. Archived from the original on October 31, 2005. 
  • Eberman, B.; Fidler, B.; Iannucci, R.A.; Joerg, C.; Kontothanassis, L.; Kovalcin, D.E.; Moreno, P.; Swain, M.J.; Van Thong, J-M (March 1999). "Indexing Multimedia for the Internet". Compaq Technical Report. CRL 99/2. Archived from the original on March 20, 2006. 
  • Dufaux, F.; Eberman, B.; Kontothanassis, L.; Moreno, P.; Swain, M.; Weikart, C. (March 1999). "A system for indexing web multimedia". Compaq Technical Report. CRL 99/3. 
  • Kontothanassis, Leonidas; Joerg, Chris; Swain, Michael J.; Eberman, Brian; Iannucci, Robert A. (August 1999). "Design Implementation and Analysis of a Multimedia Indexing and Delivery Server". Compaq Technical Report. CRL 99/5. Archived from the original on March 20, 2006. 
  • Moreno, P.J.; Van Thong, J.-M.; Logan, B.; Jones, G.J.F. (1 January 2002). "From multimedia retrieval to knowledge management". Computer. 35 (4): 58–66. doi:10.1109/MC.2002.993772. 
  • Van Thong, J.-M.; Moreno, P.J.; Logan, B.; Fidler, B.; Maffey, K.; Moores, M. (March 2002). "Speechbot: an experimental speech-based search engine for multimedia content on the web". IEEE Transactions on Multimedia. 4 (1): 88–96. doi:10.1109/6046.985557. 
  • Logan, Beth; Goddeau, Dave; Van Thong, Jean-Manuel (March 2005). "Real-world audio indexing systems". Proc. ICASSP'05. 5: 1001–1004. doi:10.1109/ICASSP.2005.1416475. ISBN 0-7803-8874-7. 
  • Olsen, Stefanie (27 May 2004). "Search engines try to find their sound". CNET News. Retrieved 18 June 2012.