The past decade enjoyed major advances in voice recognition technology, bringing to life many ideas that were once thought to be the stuff of science fiction or fantasy. While still not completely error-proof, speech recognition technology has become more user-friendly and more accurate than ever. Here is a look at how advanced speech technology is being used in our lives today and what the future holds for voice recognition.
Voice Recognition in the Mainstream
Electronic speech itself dates back to the 1930’s-1950’s with some fascinating Bell Labs experiments. 21st century experiences with voice recognition, however, really came to the forefront with Apple’s Siri. Short for, Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface, the debut of Apple’s voice-enabled personal assistant was a breakthrough in speech technology. Want to know the name of the Beatles first album or what time the sun will set tonight? Just ask Siri.
Today, we’ve traveled much further. Now, we can not only speak to our devices and receive intelligent answers, but we can also have them take actions on our behalf in our connected homes. Both the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices allow you to control your home environment and order items online, all through speech recognition technology. You can tell Alexa to adjust your home thermostat or to order Chinese takeout, all while lounging on your living room couch.
The Role of Voice Recognition Technology in the Internet of Things
Beyond responding to questions and simple requests, new voice recognition technology can adapt and learn our preferences. How does it do this? With the use of data, of course. The Internet of Things (IoT) employs real-time data analytics to process and render more accurate responses to voice requests. The IoT makes the interaction with these devices more intuitive, often creating a bond between the user and the product.
Outside the home, IoT voice-enabled devices are used in vehicles to make operation more safe and operator-friendly. You can also find examples in some medical offices, where filing electronic health records (EHR) is now a hands-free process. On the industrial side, some factories today employ voice recognition to control machinery and devices.
The New Hearables Market and Its Voice Recognition Connections
One of the most recent breakthroughs in voice recognition technology relates to its integration with wearable devices, particularly hearables. Let’s assume for a moment that you wish to connect with Siri, Alexa, or Google via your Bluetooth earbuds so that you don’t disturb those around you. While courteous, you’ll also be blocking out real world sound, which could be rude, dangerous, or a bit of both.
Some emerging hearable technology companies are poised to potentially make a splash in the future of voice recognition technology. For example, Nuheara’s IQbudsTM are intelligent, noise cancelling earbuds, that also feature directional speech amplification. These earbuds allow users to blend the soundtrack of their audio and physical environments.
Using a technology like IQbudsTM, wearers remain connected to both worlds even when an electronic device is out of reach. In-ear microphones enable voice-activated commands without the need to hold up a smartphone or yell in a crowded setting. Out with friends and need a last-minute dinner reservation? Simply ask Google or Siri to look up and dial that number, hands-free.
While we’ve seen some incredible advances in voice recognition technology in the past several years, we certainly haven’t reached the apex of voice control. Personalization through integration with the IoT, and the use of voice recognition in hearables, suggest how this technology will change our lives moving forward.