photo by Janitors via Flickr
Voice controlled gadgets are aplenty these days, and as technology grows more entrenched in our day-to-day lives, so do voice controlled devices.
To just about anyone with a smartphone, voice recognition software is now quite a familiar concept. We can ask our devices for directions home, where the closest restaurant is, and prompt them to call “mom” (though sometimes Tom by accident).
But just where is voice control software going next? If the hottest and most cutting edge products are any indication, we may be giving our digits a rest in favor of chatting with our devices instead.
Gaining a Voice
New products are beginning to take advantage of increasingly sophisticated voice recognition software in ways that, innovators hope, will slide its way into our everyday living. From biometric voice security, to surfing TV channels hands-free, voice control promises to make our lives streamlined and effortless.
To give an indication of just how big voice control software has gotten since its unlikely inception in 1952, one needn’t look anywhere but to Nuance–a leading company in voice recognition which brought in about $475 million in revenue during the third quarter of 2014.
Since 1992, Nuance been has pioneering much of the voice control software that we use today, and is also behind quite possibly the most ubiquitous voice control software yet–Siri.
However, what’s scintillating about Nuance–and likely indicative of more voice control to come–isn’t how much they’ve grown, but their commitment to bringing Nuance’s elite voice control technology to any and all devices possible.
For a fee, Nuance is currently offering manufacturers license to use Nuance’s cloud-based voice control software by simply registering their device on their website. This step has opened the market to a whole new host of possible voice control products.
Some of the Products
Though nuance is the metaphorical backbone of a burgeoning voice control market, the products are in some ways equally (if not more) exciting. Some voice control equipped products to look out for, now and in the future, include:
- Amazon Echo – this music-streaming, command-fielding piece of hardware, is Amazon’s foray into the world of voice control operated devices. Though it is only currently available to Amazon prime customers on a selective basis, the Echo plans on offering a myriad of functions from wirelessly streaming music, to fielding internet searches, and even adding items to your Amazon shopping cart.
- Ubi – yet even more futuristic than talking to your cars and music-players is the concept of smart homes. A new device called Ubi plans on allowing users voice activate household tasks like drawing the blinds, turning up the thermostat, and playing music, all by simply uttering the phrase “OK, Ubi.” Though exciting, Ubi still faces the same potential pitfalls of its voice recognition kin, like difficulty hearing commands from across the room, or noise interference. Ubi currently has a pricetag of $300.
- Google Now – a better question when referring to Google Now, is what doesn’t it do. This rebuttal to Siri offers users the ability to launch specific websites, open camera apps, command music Apps, and according to Greenbot.com is intuitive enough to understand commands like, “where was Louis C.K. born?”
These aspects of voice control software may be of major concern moving forward, but for now software companies and users alike will struggle with the more technical issues that voice commands present.
Some issues with voice control going forward will be:
- Lack of trust – in order to establish a positive relationship between users and voice control software, users will need a voice control software that’s natural and likeable. The more trusted the software is, the more likely it is to be used.
- Knowledge – educating users on just how they can command their devices will also be an obstacle. In other words, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him speak.
- Developing the best functions – in order to fully envelop user needs,engineers will have to make sure they keep their ear to the ground when it comes to usability . If a task isn’t supported by the software, users are likely to ditch and go digging with their thumbs instead. In other words, voice control software will have to understand commands like it was of human intelligence.