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Nuance Tech In Cars: Siri Contributor Partners With Spansion To Offer New Speech Package For Vehicles

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By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Spansion Inc and Nuance Communications Inc are offering car makers an improved speech-recognition technology based on their software and semiconductors, the head of Spansion told Reuters.

Spansion has tweaked its NOR flash memory chips to make Nuance's software respond faster to spoken commands and also store larger lexicons, Chief Executive John Kispert said on Tuesday.

"We take our basic technology, we package it differently, we add microcontroller technology and we add algorithms to it so we can interface quickly with all the Nuance software," he said.

Nuance's technology powers the Siri voice recognition feature in Apple Inc's iPhone 4S and the company already sells software for car entertainment and navigation systems.

Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2010, Spansion has focused on NOR flash memory. Sales of its chips for use in dashboards, entertainment systems and other embedded car applications accounted for a third of its $220 million revenue in the fourth quarter.

Kispert said the two companies are shopping their package to manufacturers now. He expects sales of chips through the partnership with Nuance to reach a run rate of between $10 million and $100 million by early 2013.

A Nuance spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

NOR memory chips are less common than NAND chips used in consumer electronics gadgets like smartphones to store movies and songs.

Spansion says its NOR chips are more tolerant of changes in temperature and are better suited than NAND for embedded applications intended to last several years, like industrial equipment or speech-recognition systems in cars.

"NAND flash reads everything sequentially and NOR reads it randomly, so if you want to read through all this data to understand a German sentence or a Spanish sentence, you want do it randomly because it's much richer," he said.

(Reporting By Noel Randewich; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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