The Evolution of Voice Management Technology
September 12, 2012
By Allison Boccamazzo
, TMCnet Web Editor
What was once only associated with traditional business systems has now exploded into a worldwide phenomenon. Not only this, but it felt similar to talking to a child. Voice recognition technology now plays a major role after specifically seeing two key influencing factors in its evolvement: improvement of voice clarity and mainstream expansion to encompass everyday public consumption. This technology has truly changed the face of voice management today, where we now all play a critical role.
There are two forms of this technology; one is strictly technological, while the other is based on popular appeal, as noted in this recent Mercury News article. As voice technology dipped its toe in the pool of consumer possibilities, developers quickly realized they needed to sophisticate its use. With enhancements made such as HD voice, one stuck to the basics while the other hired A-list celebrities to participate in extensive campaigns. It’s looking like the evolution of voice management technology is going to be reflective of the latter.
When Siri hit the scene in October 2011 with the iPhone (News - Alert) 4, many were fascinated. No longer was voice technology restricted or limited to an automated voice response system, but something that was intensified for personal, life-like interaction. Not only this, but the communication was – for the most part – pretty seamless. Taking the hint from Apple, major players including Google, Microsoft and IBM (News - Alert) all began developing their own voice technologies, as well.
“And as more consumers see what the technology can do – even if imperfectly and not all the time – their expectations are fueling demand that's forcing product manufacturers to embrace the technology,” said Mike Thompson, executive VP at Nuance (News - Alert), a strong force in the development of speech technologies.
Image via Shutterstock
Taking this hint, the technology continued to roll out voice-enabled services covering everything from televisions to cars. Automakers – notably Ford – have been integrating voice management technology into its navigation systems, climate systems and even music players. This movement is so strong that Dan Miller, senior analyst at Opus Research, said that voice controls are becoming so common and high in demand that it is now becoming a mandate that car companies must consider whether they should let their systems interact with their drivers’ personal smart gadgets.
Always one step ahead of the pack, Apple is apparently in the works with General Motors to incorporate a Siri voice-command system into car steering wheels.
Furthermore, companies such as Samsung (News - Alert), LG and Panasonic are shipping television sets with voice controls. “Not far in the future, some experts foresee other voice-activated appliances and home systems that control thermostats and alarms. Already available are programs that use a person's unique voiceprint to determine if he or she is a gadget's rightful owner, and thus authorized to access data or make online purchases,” says Mercury News.
Developers and contributors must be wary, however, as this could quickly take a dangerous turn. Consider the fairly new introduction of Siri, which has since then accumulated some worries and complaints for its malfunctions or server failures, suggesting the technology take some to marinate and mature before further expansion. Now consider implementing this technology into operating vehicles – you see where I’m going with this.
“Even Siri's fans will concede that today's voice systems are far from perfect,” Mercury News says. “Internet connections can be lost. Programs stumble on unusual phrases or figures of speech, and they generally can't offer more than pre-programmed quips in response to abstract questions like, ‘What's the meaning of life?’"
So could it be that voice technology still continues to work best only in automated call center programs, or is this going to be a long-term revelation? Apparently, experts maintain that the more we use voice services, the more it will expand to provide more data for engineers to use to improve voice recognition, management, and spoken commands. One thing’s for sure – it has come a long way since its humble beginnings.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman