"Siri, tell me the weather today."
Voice recognition software may still be far from perfect, but the level of progress that it has achieved through the decades is undeniable. In fact, we are at a point where its use is more or less ubiquitous, something that you'd commonly see in gadgets, smartphones, tablets…
… But wait, what exactly is voice recognition technology?
Here’s a short history of Voice Recognition software, its practicality, and a glimpse of what we can expect in the future.
Syllables into Words
Although digital speech recognition technology has been around as early as the 1950's, the first vestiges of the version that we recognize today came from efforts in algorithm and vocabulary by the Soviet Union and DARPA around the 1970's. Developments for their research would later culminate into the first commercial speech recognition software programs of the late 20th century, which subsequently became the basis of what we would eventually adopt in the 21st century.
Today, most speech recognition software uses complicated algorithms and immensely huge databases for language and vocabulary. Dragon Naturally Speaking by Dragon Systems for example, is capable of using input functions to provide speech to text dictation systems in 7 different languages. Integrated cloud systems allow personal assistant software such as Siri and Cortana to analyze and understand vocal queries, and to provide relevant information based on what is verbally requested. Continuous developments in pattern recognition, prediction, and analysis keep pushing the technology even further.
Words into Meaning
While it is impressive to see a digital system capable of understanding human speech, what are the practical applications? If we can simply type an input, or select an option from a touch display menu, do we need software to analyze speech at all? Even without considering the sheer awesomeness of having a machine understand when you speak, the answer is still a resounding YES!
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and practical applications:
Automated Assistance - This is one of the most fundamental uses for speech recognition systems today. While talking to an automated machine is not always ideal, this function allows us to get basic enquiries answered without having to wait on hold for an hour to reach a “live agent. We can even interact and be guided through basic instructions, definitely a time saver (sometimes).
Remote data input - With speech recognition software, users who can’t use standard input modes such as typing can instead simply verbalize the data and have the speech to text application digitize the input. This same feature can also be reversely used for various text to speech functions.
Remote command input - Once you can input data using speech, translating that data to commands becomes a simple task. All it takes is mapping certain simple keywords and phrases to the desired responses.
Very fast transcription - let's admit it, even if computers dominate a significant part of our lives, we're still far from being professional typists when it comes to manual input speed. Speech recognition software eliminates this limitation, by helping you instantly transcribe words into something that can be professionally edited later.
Alternative authentication - Finally, voice recognition systems can be used as an alternative method of security access, as opposed to standard password inputs or hardware-based authorization. While its ultimate efficiency is still debatable, using it in tandem with other security systems provides an extra layer of protection for files and data that require tighter security measures.
Meaning into Ideas
One thing that you may have noticed during the past couple of years is that speech or voice recognition systems have improved in leaps and bounds! Even just last year, most voice recognition systems have an observed improvement rating by over thirty percent. The best part of this is that these technologies are currently integrated with AI systems, which is why Siri sounds perkier now than she was half a decade ago.
This isn't just about utilizing the cloud to crunch up huge amounts of data to analyze. Even voice to text or text to speech online apps have become more widespread. Software that enable the creation of custom voice recognition systems now allow users to set up their own access network that is not only accessible via keyboard or mouse, but can also be conveniently accessed by just speaking to your computer.
With all of these developments, an all-listening, easily accessible, Star Trek computer-like voice recognition interface might be closer than we think.