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Do you think voice recognition will eventually make touch computing obsolete?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 8, 2013 8:25 AM PST
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Probably not, but Star Trek made us think

Imagine a room full of people where everyone is talking to a computer. Certainly in a library this would be a major problem. In some settings it would be OK like some of scenes we see on TV with big rooms full of telemarketers or stock brokers, but in a lot of places it wouldn't be tolerable. Today when you can buy very good voice recognition software for under $100 (and it's been available for over a decade now), it doesn't seem to be very popular. I'm sure for some people with handicaps (e.g. paraplegics), it's probably indispensable, but for most of the rest of us, it doesn't seem to've caught on. I can type 65 wpm, so I'm not at all inclined to want to use it. I'm pretty good at finding and correcting my errors (especially spelling errors that spell checkers have automated), and speech recognition (and OCR as well) makes errors that I find harder to locate and correct. Punctuation seems to be especially error prone with it.

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Hope not!

I certainly hope voice recognition doesn't take over. I have a speech impediment so far no electronic device has been able to recognize what I am trying to say. I would really be put out if it did.

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No, not voice is not trustworthy enough

I'd go for some mindlink in future.

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Voice recognition...Na!

Is it not bad enough having to tolerate people in public talking to their hand. I can just imagine the scenario in the local pub.
Bill, whose laptop it is, says, "Open sesame".
Bill Gates clone responds, "Yessir! Right away sir. Will that be all sir?"
John who hates interruptions when hes having a beer, shouts, "SHUT UP!"
Laptop replies, "That is not a valid request."
Harry chips in, "Bring me a beer."
Bill says. "Ignore that lot."
Laptop replies, "Who's talking now."
The next few minutes degenerates into a plethora of unintelligible garbage".
Publican approaches and confiscates the laptop saying, "Customers are complaining 'bout the noise in 'ere. Get your 'puter back when you leave."

Never ever be allowed in libraries, churches.


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I seriously doubt that voice recognition will ever totally make touch obsolete because the human race is touchy-feely. It's why the virtual keyboards didn't go over well.

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Current telephone voice recognition is abysmal

If the telephone voice recognition systems currently being used in computerized phone routing systems (how I HATE these!!!) are any indication, voice recognition technology is not even close to being ready for "prime time." Speaking quickly or with an accent totally messes up the system and you end up off in timbuktu. Couple that with background noises or other voices talking while you are trying to work on your computer and you have a formula for serious disaster! Take it to a new level, as some here have done, and look at the potential for purposeful sabotage by shouting out destructive commands and you truly have an unworkable technology. Even by myself in my home office, the phone or doorbell will ring or the cats will make noises. Will my computer respond to these? More to the point, HOW will my computer respond to these?

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No, touch is making voice recognition obsolete

The speech recognition tech we had in the mid 90's was not too far behind what we have today, and user reception to this type of interface has remained more or less constant since then: people use voice when their hands aren't free, but not otherwise.

The dream of speech reco taking over was (and still is) based on the idea that it's somehow "easier" than any other way -- easier than typing. Turns out, correcting errors and controlling the cursor and selecting menu options are as much a hassle via voice, as using a keyboard/mouse -- if not more so. But any hope of perfecting the speech interface to the point that it would become 'the easiest' died with the advent of multi-touch interfaces (those that have squeeze and pinch, etc.)

We may prefer to use speech input while driving (and maybe in the future we'll use it while jogging, skiing, etc.) Dentists may use it while poking your mouth, cops while chasing suspects in a squad car. But this is going to be the full extent of it, for the coming generation.

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Voice over touch, in some applications yes. Others, no.
by 0135boom / January 8, 2013 11:35 AM PST

Voice commands using voice recognition (VR) where sight and touch would be a distraction, non-high risk to safety, or inconvenient, yes. I can see voice working in those situations. In the office, home, or traveling, VR would be a burden. Just look at VR in Siri or Dragon Speak. The errors are excessive even for a Midwesterner like me. Add a real accent and you can just forget it working. The huge local database of sound references will be enormous and need to be self learning. Yes they do this today, but to be useful the VR needs to be thousands of times better. This means computing power, search power, speed, and artificial intelligence. We have isolated components, but not a true integration of all the pieces... at least as far as we know!?!

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I seriously doubt it.

I wasted my money on Dragon Naturally speaking when my eyesight began to fail. It did not work anywhere near what was advertised. I'm not having to learn NVDA, the Non-Visual Desktop Application. A touch screen does you no good if you can't see it, so I have no use for Win8. I even called Microsoft and the tech couldn't even tell me how to set it up for those who needed special access. NCDA is great for total power users. EVERYTHING is done from the keyboard and with an ear bud in one ear to hear the text read to you along with descriptions of the images. All with no monitor or with it turned off. It does blow people's minds the 1st time they watch, though, lol.
I do hope speech recognition gets better than it is now but by them my typing speed should be way faster than speaking anyway.

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Google Voice Recognition is Hands Down the Best!
by iSamsung2u / January 8, 2013 11:18 PM PST
In reply to: I seriously doubt it.
Silly Too Many People like Lee just don't get it and have never even tried Google Search Voice Recognition. With a really good mic in my Logitech HD cam sitting on top of my TV, I use Voice in both search and Chrome browser extension on a daily basis. It totally shames Dragon's program completely in both accuracy and speed and it's using the cloud to to compute for it instead of your computer.

That's the difference between getting the job done to your satisfaction and being frustrated by closed proprietary voice applications that make you want to throw your computer out the window. I also use several smartphones and tablets and right now my favorite is my Nexus 7 with Google Now. Where all my answers seem to magically appear in micro seconds in response to my oral questions. Much like Star Trek's "Computer" Google aims to be the most successful Voice Recognition Program on the Planet using "Knowledge Base" that with all the answers you could ever want right in one place.

You don't have to train and it'll recognize more languages Dragon or any other proprietary program. It can even respond to "Google" on Android devices. Which gets it's attention to listen to your plain language question and it gets it right over 95% of the time for me. Now it is my go to personal assistant and I quite frankly hate touch screen keyboards a whole lot more. Having a keyboard you can't actually rest your hands on is just plain ridiculous and on a HPC connected to your TV, I only use Google Search with a extension in the tool bar that enables Google Voice Recognition even here on Yahoo.

Truth is I spoke this comment to my HPC computer attached to my 65" HDTV from across the room and I also use Google + Hang Outs to visit with relatives or answer their questions in Chrome Browser. With it I can have them train their camera on their computer monitor or TV screen and walk them through any hassles they run into! ........Google Voice and Google Services in general have been a god send to some people who can't use or don't know how to use a keyboard quickly. In the time it takes to enter text in a box, with Google Voice I've already got my answers by the time you press "Enter"! Grin
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Said yes...But...

When voice obsoletes touch thought control will be starting to obsolete voice.
I doubt I will be around to see either.

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Touch v VOX

The bar scenario was a good example...there's also the floating joke about how you used to tell if people were crazy by the way they talked to themselves in public, now they are just on the phone!

There are many of us that are either technophobes, or technophiles that prefer the sounds of silence: Texters!

VOX, while being useful on tv shows (where they must explain everything), is generally impractical in open society. Imagine being in an internet cafe and competing with all the noises and other users around you for the attention of your personal iPad...! Really adds to the thought of becoming a hermit.

Alternatively, I am neither a big fan of touch screen fingers are too big for most of the screens...I can hardly play Mah-Jongg on my (allegedly) smart phone! It, along with 3D tv and Pet Rocks, will soon fade.

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Voice recognition will never replace touch or keyboard

One don't fit all. There are many inventions to make personal computing simple. There were 50 billion slots available for surfing the Internet, in the beginnig, no one imagined in the begiining that Surfers would surpass that number, so, recently the new Internet opened with 137 trillion. With a host of Gadgets & Pc's its a simple equation, one don't fit all. Voice recognition may be good in some instances, however, not all, so it will never replaced touch-keyboard computing.

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Has anyone used a secretary to take down notes?

It takes a great deal of time to effectively use a human secretary to take down notes unless you've already written a draft first. Unless your tablet is going pick up your dry-cleaning, buy an anniversary present for the wife or organize golf some business friends then I don't think that voice will take over from touch ever. Besides as many others have said if you are on the train then everyone will be able to overhear all your business transactions.

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The Subject is "Voice Technology" NOT "Secretary"
by wmcbrooks7 / January 9, 2013 1:27 AM PST

TO jsargent:

The question we are discussing is "Voice Technology" NOT "Secretary." We are simply talking about technology that transcribes the words spoken into a document that may be edited, saved, sent or published. I do not ever expect "Voice Technology" to schedule appointments for golf or the dentist, etc., but I must admit, it would be cool!!! Very cool!
Just the fact of "Voice" transmission and translation into the printed version will be a tremendous help to many people. Admittedly, there is a bit of learning curve involved, but within a few days most people should be able to handle the "Voice Technology" to the point that it will be very effective -- and it will eliminate hand, wrist, and arm problems some people develop by using the keyboards too much, or too often.

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The subject is the same
by jsargent / January 9, 2013 4:19 PM PST

For voice to take off it cannot be limited to copying what you say. Obviously you have never used a secretary. Just using voice alone to create a document is an extremely complicated task. If you consider that a secretary can ask you an infinite number of questions while you are dictating your document how do you expect voice technology to be better. The technology that will superceed touch will be AI not voice over touch. It will involve numerous combinations of sensors piled into an AI engine that will be able to accurately determine what you want to do. However, this technology is a long way off. Voice cannot take to place of touch since it doesn't know what to do.

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What about foreign languages?
by jsargent / January 9, 2013 4:25 PM PST

If you live in a country where support for your language is notoriously late and ill supported then don't expect voice to take off soon or ever work.

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Necessary for some of us.

I am too old to be trying to use teenage phones no matter how smart they are, but I have no alternative if I want to communicate with my son who does not answer the phone but will read and answer a text. That also creates a problem because the keys are so small, at least for me, and my eyesight is bad enough, that I find it very difficult to type a decypherable sentence. Talking to the phone in public is sometimes embarrasing, but is almost unavoidable. I do believe the two technologies will work in tandem very well. I have had the exact opposite result with the voice recognition on my LG Motion phone as I have read in some of the other posts. I am constantly amazed that it seldom misses a word. Other systems using voice recognition don't usually give me much trouble, but some seem to be impossible to use. Probably relates to the age of the system and how much money was spent on it.

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Reply to JD Gann -- Age Does Make A Difference
by wmcbrooks7 / January 9, 2013 1:16 AM PST

I was formerly able to type at about 105 Words Per Minute (WPM), but at 68, I can't do that now. Your point about difficulty seeing the screens, reading the print because the type is too small on smaller devices, especially Smart Phones, is clearly understood by me. Also, I have big hands, big fingers, and I am forever hitting the key next to the one I really wanted to hit -- so I spend a good bit of time correcting my documents, whether email or other things I am wanting to write in reply to something I tried to read.
The "voice" programs that write things as you speak is one thing. But what I really want is software that will read small print to me!!! I am now using bi-focals, and still there is too many small print items, especially on Smart Phones. But a voice reader is the technology that I crave! The market for seniors would be enormous, as well as for all ages who suffer poor vision and even for those who are blind.
Ah, TECHNOLOGY!!! I love it!

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Comments about seniors
by wpgwpg / January 9, 2013 1:38 AM PST

I hear you about tablets and smart phones. But on laptops and desktops I'm 74 and can still type the 65 wpm I always could. I guess I'm just lucky. If you want bigger text, you can hold down the CTRL key and press the + key to temporarily make it bigger with your browser, or you can set the text size in the browser options, or you can set the Windows option to make everything bigger. As for something to read the onscreen text to you, the narrator that's in the Windows 7 Ease of Access will do that already.

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It isn't one or the other - it can't be. It won't be.

Assuming they all worked perfectly, which I expect they will, eventually,

... there will be a number of alternative communications options ("delivery channels") on most (but maybe not all) devices.

We already know keyboard and "precision pointing devices" (in which category I include mouse and drawing tablet, for purposes of this discussion.) We have seen touch screens (pointing, gestures and handwriting) as well as camera captured no-touch gestures, even WII-style location devices (or think of the chip in the football some soccer managers want to see as determining whether a ball was "in".)

I would also include identification chips (like RFID, smart cards or passport chips) as special input technologies, even bar code scanners. And we have seen the arrival of biometric scanners (retina, fingerprints.)

So, as you see, it can't be about one replacing the other completely. It is about computers being enabled to interact with humans (and animals?) in a number of ways, roughly equivalent to our senses. We haven't sspecifically discussed it yet, but what is wrong with the sense of smell?

And let's not forget that we can build into computers sensory input devices that use channels that humans are insensitive to. Bluetooth and WiFi are just two examples where we have taken the concept of electromagnetic input beyond the optical spectrum. So that should also be counted.

Of course, we will also see a similar selection of output options for "flesh-and-blood" consumers.

Intel, think again!

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Different forms communication: won't for all people/places

Voice recognition is fun for many people, but as it improves, it could become very important for people who can't touch/type because of functional and access needs.
For the same reason, while many people love the tactile experience of a touch screen, this technology allows people who can't speak the ability to interact with a device.

Both are amazing technologies. Both have the potential to make life much easier for people with functional and access needs.

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Functional and Access Needs for Voice Technology
by wmcbrooks7 / January 9, 2013 1:05 AM PST

Some very good points I had not thought about. Thanks for your timely remarks.

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Voice Will Replace Touch

The reason why I believe voice will replace touch is that voice software is much better than ever before, and once people train their voice software to handle their speaking, and learn how to speak to the software, the software prepares the writing without misspelling, much faster than most people can type. Once people get used to it, it will catch on very quickly. There is a potential problem though, and that will be the reluctance of people to speak in public to their voice software, which could cause embarrassment and expose one's private comments among strangers, or even among friends who don't need to know the business of other individuals.
Personally, I would love it because I am an author of religious books, and I could continue writing wherever I am, and "voice" would have the potential to allow me to drastically increase my writing output. And since my topic is always religious, I could use the public writing to interest others who may choose to listen as I "voice" my latest book. I will love it because of the free advertising, and because it will allow me to get this work done much quicker -- sort of like "redeeming the time!"

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I sure hope not!!!

We already have people in line at the stores, seemingly talking to themselves via their bluetooth.

Next we'll have people huddled in a corner of the Starbucks, seeming talking to themselves , but really talking to their computer. And I know some would say...Who would do that??? Kindly, refer to the first sentence of the post.

In your den, with no background noise, sure use voice if you wish.

But I happen to like music, sometimes rather loud music, in my background.

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Of course, it will

Just wait and see. Not only will it recognize what you say, it will also recognize that you are saying it, and not somebody else. And the interface will be different. Remember what a big change it was to go from windows to touch screen? Remember how much things changed when we switched from text based screens to windows? And are you old enough to remember when there were no screens, only card decks to interface with the computer? Voice recognition will require a totally different user interface from today's touch screen interface. You will make fun of all the old fogie "touch screeners" who refuse to switch to voice activation.

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Voice Will Rule, Of Course, It Will
by wmcbrooks7 / January 9, 2013 2:58 PM PST
In reply to: Of course, it will

I like it. You say it just like I believe it. The learning curve will cause a bit of adjustments, but it will gain followers and once started, it will be the coolest, most productive change we have had in these areas!
Nay-sayers, BEWARE!!!

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No to question

Privacy factor alone will keep touch as an option. No doubt "VR" will becom,e increasingly popular but its use will be so dependent on user's whereabouts that it could never be the only option. I have VR in my paired car phone but it hardly ever works. The technology to perfect the mode is still years ahead.

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