on 31 October 18
Voice activation technology as of now is very raw and there are ongoing developments with the software. Developers and audio engineers are heavily researching on voice recognition that is not only able to detect words but be able to recognize how users speak.
At the moment, it will be foolish to say that voice activated software understands every variation and accent of the spoken language and be able to converse casually with users. Our intelligent systems arenât so highly intelligent after all and thereâs more to be done to capture that existing potential.
However, major tech companies including Apple and Google are putting their money into voice-activated interfaces as they believe it will be the next revolutionary step in interacting with computers.
As of now that are 4 major voice activated systems that are currently making steady progress for people.
Siri (IPhone Software)
Apple has partnered with sound engineering company Nuance to further improve its Siri software. Currently, Apple is talking about further research into paralinguistic which is to uncover the manner in which Apple users speak to their phones instead of the words they say.
Nuance's researchers are paying attention to acoustic elements such as tone to enable the software to detect userâs emotions from their speech. The objective is if the software is able to know that the user is feeling joyful or sad through the tone from their speech, the software is able to respond accordingly to the mood of the person.
Apart from improving the softwareâs speech comprehension, Siri is also looking towards a fundamental change in its programming by adopting a trial and error process. The process goes like this, if the user requires a specific song playlist for listening while commuting to work, the software wouldnât know and would automatically learn what type of music the user usually listens to on the way to work. The software would then add such music association to its knowledge database and will have it handy when the user asks for it again. Nuance's engineers claim such a process would store userâs information, not as a rule, but as a probability in its statistical programming.
Google Now (Android Software)
Google Now is one of the most well integrated, voice activated assistants there is. One of its key features is that the app has a note function that is triggered from a userâs command, for instance, if users are in need to be reminded of an occasion for a specific date, the user will simply have to utter the word Note during the command sentence. The app will then prompt the user to enter details of the note.
Another key development of the Google Now is that it will stay on the same subject during a search made by the user. For example, the user may command for photo images of an actor, the app will provide photos and then give further suggestions to the user about that particular actor such as prompting about the actorâs age, spouse, latest movie and etc.
The clever ability of Google Now is that it recognizes and monitors habitual actions of its users and will then provide users more relevant information based on their habits and lifestyle. The system behind it is from Googleâs Knowledge Graph which is programmed to gather all the commanded search results from the user and then analyze such results to fit the userâs preconceived meanings and habitual associations.
The scary part with this intelligent software is that with the appâs ability to provide information readily to the user through a very intuitive line of reasoning and without the userâs request for such information, it only goes to show how much Google actually know about your own personal daily lifestyle.
Cortana (Windows Software)
Microsoft has introduced Cortana, the new voice activated software for Microsoftâs Windows phone 8.1 software. Labeled as the personal digital assistant, Cortana is able to search for information through the internet, reschedule your appointments, sent emails and many more by just speaking to the software.
To be fair, the Cortana software is similar to both Siri and Google Now, as their functions are of the same such as being able to monitor the userâs daily habits and provide them with relevant information.
Echo is a standalone speaker with a far-field microphone that is capable of conveying a voice message clearly from across a room to the user. Simply utter the word Alexa and Echoâs virtual assistant is activated for your daily needs. Similar to the smart phone applications listed above, Echo provides you with requested information and schedule reminders.
The differentiating thing is that is considered a smart home device and not a smart phone device. The device can be fitted at every corner of the house and can be utilized to take commands from us at any room.
Whatâs in store for intelligent voice activated systems?
If a standalone speaker can detect your command and replies you, why not an intelligent clock that speaks out to you the time to go to bed or to get up. In the not so distant future, not only will our smart phones be controlled through voice but our basic home appliances such as refrigerators, television and doors will be programmed with intelligent voice systems. Voice activation technology is still at a tender stage and with more trials and testing, it should pave the way for computers to start having decent conversations with us humans.
A clip taken from the movie "Her", where the actor plays a ukulele and sings with its operating system.