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Firesay adds simple voice navigation to Firefox

A new tool lets Firefox users control their browser with only their voice. Called Firesay, it is able to open up Web pages, visit TV shows, and even do Web searches through Google.

Firesay logo

Voice navigation is now commonplace on modern-day Android devices, but on the desktop, many of the accessibility tools that would bring voice commands to the end user still require special system level software or customized hardware.

That's not the case with a new Firefox add-on called Firesay, which brings hands-free voice controls to just the browser. Once installed as an add-on, it can pick up voice commands to do Web searches, open and close sites, and even pull up TV shows on Hulu.

The number of commands, and sites users can visit is extremely limited for the time being. You can, for instance, only open up a handful of Web sites and TV shows, as long as they're in the list of those that have been programmed in. Though the add-on is able to recognize and transcribe voice commands for its Web search feature. The add-on also requires that the user is on Windows 7, leaving XP, Vista, and Mac OS users behind.

One very cool feature is the option to open up a new site in the background of another tab, which normally requires: the link be coded that way, a special mouse click, or the use of a contextual menu within the browser. Firesay's solution is to have the user say "multitask" in front of a site's name, which opens it up and lets it load in an adjacent tab. The same behavior is used to do Web searches, which for now, are all done through Google.

Firesay's creators say future versions will bring voice recognition that is more easily able to pull out words from a noisy room. To some degree, Google has gotten around this problem on the mobile side by making use of noise cancellation hardware on the phone and software algorithms within the Android OS. On the desktop side of things, Firesay is simply suggesting that users invest in a microphone with noise cancellation built-in.

Below is a demo video of how the technology works: