Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Speech Recognition Software: From Science Fiction to Everyday Life?

Star Trek, Knight Rider. These are some of the movies that first got us interested in computers that have the ability to generate speech. And if that wasn't enough they had the intelligence to reply to any and all questions thrown at them! All of these movies and TV shows were centered on a computer that was jammed into the control panel. So why computers? Why has the focus solely been on computers when talking about speech recognition? Well it’s simple. Only computers have the ability facilitate and process the controls that perform the work necessary for speech recognition to work.

Since the introduction of computers, they have been quite a fixture on our lives. If you think about it we use at least one thing each day that is run by computers. No matter how hard we try there is no getting away from it. For example, almost everyone has a GPS (Global Positioning System) in their cars to help you figure out where you’re going and how to get there. But wait! Why stop there?! What about the most popular and widely used product anywhere in the world today? MOBILE PHONES!! Voice Dialing is a feature that has become a staple in the cellular world. Any type of mobile has this feature which makes it much easier for you to use your mobile phone and is also a great tool if you need to multitask.

With the introduction of Speech recognition, the only individuals that might be a bit perplexed about this would be computer hardware developers. With this Speech recognition software the use for keyboards and mice are quickly becoming extinct as there is now a new method of inputting and outputting information into the computer.

Speech recognition has also stepped in to the world of business applications and transcription which we have spoken at length in our previous blog post. In recent times speech recognition has also made great strides in being able to incorporate this software to make everyday life much simpler. Think about a time when we can operate our televisions, microwaves or even something as simple as turning on a light! It’s no secret that some of this software is available at present, but let’s face it, we still have a long way to go until our offices and homes are completely run by the sound of our voice.

Even though we have made huge developments in this area, we are still only beginning understand and developing more advanced systems. At this moment in time the industry is still vigorously working on “Homonyms” (Words that are pronounced the same, but differ in spelling). Present computers/software cannot distinguish these words and therefore causes much distress. In addition to this, the software is also experiencing issues when it comes to periods, commas and hyphens.

Another issue that needs to be solved is the accent of speech. The software cannot be used by people with different accents. This is an area which needs to be looked into at great length since people of different ethnicities; countries and races have different accents. Take England for example. They speak the same language, but different people from different parts of the country have varied accents. But as with anything, experts in the field of Speech recognition speculate that with continued practice the software can become more in sync with the speaker and begin to understand words and communicate better. At the moment, however, this software works on the global neutral English accent 98% of the time! Which in our opinion is not a bad deal at all!

We already live in a world where some of our day-to-day activities include interaction with speech identifying devices. We’re well on our way towards a world where we can probably sit on a couch from morning to evening and command our household appliances to do whatever we want - whether it’s to make a pot of coffee or do the dishes! All these changes may seem interesting and even frightening, but developers are well into coming up with these products and software’s to match them! It won’t be long now for these devices to appear in our homes... just think about the progression of the mobile phone!!

In our next blog we will speak about Transcription and how Voice Recognition software will most likely completely replace the manual transcription systems of today.