FORTUNE — Speech recognition is nothing new.Consumer electronics, cars and automated call centers have been “listening” to commands for years. Google has been transcribing voicemail messages since 2009, and Microsoft baked similar technology into Windows Vista three years before that. So what’s the big deal about Apple’s new virtual personal assistant named Siri?
She gets you.
In other words, Siri isn’t just voice recognition technology, but voice comprehension — and that’s changing the way users interact with their mobile devices. Now, many predict Siri could provide a major boost to a perennially around-the-corner technology, much the way Apple’s (AAPL) touch-based iPhone controls vaulted that technology into mainstream use. That could clear the way for a wide range of innovative applications. The voice recognition industry was worth some $2.7 billion this year, according to Opus Research. It is predicting a post-Siri boom in 2012.