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Newcomer's 'Perfect' Voice Control Handset Unveiled

Gordon Kelly


Newcomer's 'Perfect' Voice Control Handset Unveiled

There has been a lot of hype about this mysterious handset since its late Friday afternoon unveiling - so now the dust has settled what do we know? In truth, virtually nothing...

Dubbed the 'Zumbafone', the handset featured briefly on a local BBC news segment where its inventors IA Technology boldly claimed it would revolutionise mobile phone interaction. So what is it?

In short, we see a device in two parts - the handset itself (pictured above, left) and a detachable swirl shaped headset built into the back. IA claims with this system a user simply needs to talk into the headset to dial numbers, recall contacts or even send text messages. A basic pie segmented physical dial pad is also situated on the handset as a backup. Of course this shouldn't be necessary with IA touting the phone as "the world's first fully accurate voice recognition system for mobile phones" though the reporter claims "the technology behind this is so secret I can't actually give you a demonstration of how it works."

Consequently we learn little else other than received text messages are converted to audio and read back to a user while contacts are stored online at the bizarrely named 'Zumba Lumba' website - a seamlessly messy arrangement unless 3G access is involved. On the plus side however, the Zumbafone is little larger than a credit card and will allegedly target the budget end of the market.

Naturally scepticism at this point is running high with many even deeming the operation a giant hoax (*checks calendar for 1 April*) but as always with these things only time will tell. Personally speaking I smell vapourware here with the technology instead being sold/licensed off to major phone makers should it deliver on its lofty promise...


Zumba Lumba

BBC Report


February 2, 2009, 11:07 am

What a load of bollocks.

Design-wise it's just an iPod mockup (weak one ofc), the name is rubbish, keyboard will be horrific and it lacks any of the usual phone garnish. I hate it when a small designer tries too hard to be ingenious, why do they even got so much attention? It's not even well thought, and deffinately presented badly. It's no innovation at all, basically it's just a phone with a fancy keyboard and b/t headset slotted in. What's perfect about this?

Art Lebedev has the right to make stunning stuff, rest of you - go away.


February 2, 2009, 4:46 pm

What is the point of full voice activation for text messaging anyway? If you are willing to speak the message to the phone to transcribe and then send, why on earth wouldn't you just call the person in the first place! It would be a one hell of a lot quicker. Sometimes people make technology for the sake of technology not because it is either necessary or useful!

I've never understood the need voice activation other than when driving where it becomes essentially and vitally useful.


February 2, 2009, 5:48 pm

MonkeyAxman - I've been looking for a phone/ some software to do exactly what you said is pointless.

Like you said why dont I just ring the person after all it would be quicker....

My problem is the fact that the person (my fiancee) I send text messages to the most is deaf and as such I cannot ring her. I have to send text messages and as you may or may not know driving and sending a text message is highly impratical and ilegal.

As such a phone/some software which does this would help myself and I'm sure alot of other people who's partners are deaf/have deaf freinds/relatives or people with hearing difficultys.

I know its a very small market but it is wanted.


February 2, 2009, 5:59 pm

Surely a hoax. Fully accurate voice recognition? Nobody has come close to this on ANY platform (even PC, etc). The idea the somebody's achieved this on a phone, and the idea that it was achieved by a tiny UK start-up - far too much to believe.

(Seems like BBC technology reporting is going the same way as BBC science reporting)

James Morris

February 2, 2009, 8:46 pm

Presumably, they will be getting the Numa Numa Guy to help them advertise it when it's finally launched.


February 2, 2009, 10:07 pm

They obviously like the smell of bankruptcy in the morning....


February 2, 2009, 10:37 pm

The guy that appeared on TV pimping this thing seemed like a classic sales-sociopath.


February 2, 2009, 11:51 pm

"seemed like a classic sales-sociopath"

Haha, that's what I thought...I bet he used to sell fake watches from a car boot at South Mimms services in a former life ;)


February 2, 2009, 11:57 pm

I'm very glad to see that comments. As would Gordon Ramsay said: pwning Zumba - done.

@h00x - well surely this is a good idea for some people to do speech-to-text in a phone to aid communication with deaf people, but then you don't announce it as reinventing the phone.


February 3, 2009, 5:00 pm

@h00x - I freely admit I didn't think of that use for the phone and I agree it is brilliant for people in that situation. I hope then that this isn't a hoax and it can benifit people.

Although I do think they shouldn't try to sell it as the future of mobile phones!

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