My dearest scene in Starlet Trek IV is when Scotty attempts to use the computer in the 1980s. When he’s told he must use the mouse, he responds, “how quaint”, and then proceeds to attempt speaking into the mouse for the computer to react. With the advent of Siri on iOS and voice recognition on Android, it’s beginning to feel like the voice interface portrayed in Starlet Trek isn’t too far away.
But it’s not here just yet.
I set up my Nexus 7 tablet with the most latest devices from Google (technically, they’re not yet available for the Nexus 7, but I’m a nerd, so I was able to find a way). I set my now always-responsive tablet on the window ledge in my office, just out of reach but in effortless earshot. I went through the entire day, attempting to use the tablet as often as possible without touching it. I discovered a few things:
Google is truly good at providing certain types of feedback. If I asked about the time in London, the current weather or the stock price of a popular stock, I’d get a visual response along with a voice telling me the reaction.
Outside that puny list of things Google is indeed good at answering, it doesn’t do anything more than give search results on the tablet. I was hoping for something like, “would you like me to read you the most popular search result?” But alas, it didn’t even audibly tell me it heard my question.
Sending texts and e-mail messages is possible, but frustrating and scary. If you’ve ever attempted to use voice calling with a Bluetooth headset, you’ve most likely had the awkward practice of your phone accidentally attempting to call an ex-boyfriend or gf instead of calling the plumber. If you’re fortunate, you can stop it before it rings on their end, but thanks to caller ID, you’re likely in for a very awkward followup call. I found Google’s voice-based messaging more cautious than my Bluetooth headset, but still potentially bad. This is especially true because the tablet was across the room, making it hard to dive and press cancel.
So, albeit we may not be to the point where we can ask Jarvis to order us a pizza while we’re flying around in an Ironman suit, we’re undoubtedly taking a step in the right direction. The advent of Google Glass will make spoken directions more and more common. Even if you hate Google Glass, you can rejoice in the voice interface improvements it doubtlessly will cause.
Is voice interface more than a novelty for you? Do you successfully send messages to people on a regular basis by dictating only to your brainy device? Did you think Starlet Trek IV was awesome too? I’d love to get feedback on your thoughts concerning voice interfaces, Google Glass and the future of interfaces in general. Send me an e-mail at email@example.com. I, for one, look forward to my very first cranial implant. (I’d like to wait for version 1.1 however&mdash,nobody wants a buggy brain implant!)
With a voice interface, everyone in the room knows what you’re up to.
I wonder what the state of the art in language recognition would be if Dragon Naturally Speaking didn’t go through that entire Goldman Sachs thing.
Right now, voice is a bit of a novelty tho’ it will eventually become very usable. Tho’ by then it might not be used at all. I have to believe that once computing power becomes that good in portable devices we won’t likely be speaking with our vocal straps to each other or to computers. I suspect we’ll have computers implanted and thought will drive them. We’ll very likely “talk” to each other using thought and radio swings.
As for Starlet Trek IV, one of the best movies they’ve ever done but the scene isn’t fairly as you described it. Scotty, as Professor Scott from the University of Edinburgh, sits down in front of the computer. Speaks to it. Bones palms Scotty the mouse and he says, “Hello, computer.” Dr. Nickles then tells him to just use the keyboard. And a bunch of key punches(too hard on the keys) later and we have the formula for semi-transparent aluminum.
I just wish Paramount had done Diane Duane’s Dark Mirror as a movie. That would have rocked.