We’ve all seen one of those futuristic movies where the human character interacts (usually by voice) with a supercomputer or robot. The classic science fiction movie,2001: A Space Odyssey is a case in point. If you recall in the movie, the spaceship’s onboard supercomputer, HAL, interacts with its astronauts as the ship travels to Jupiter. Eventually, HAL evolves to a point where it turns on its two astronaut “colleagues” out of self-preservation.
Then there’s the Terminator series in which a supercomputer system known as “Skynet” becomes self-aware and begins to propagate other computers to terminate all human life.
Hopefully, this is not what we can expect from the future when it comes to our use of computers and in particular, voice controlled technology.
Today, we see voice recognition technology in use almost everywhere. From the voice-dial feature on our cell phones to the OnStar feature offered in newer GM vehicles, voice controlled technology is here to stay, to improve and to make our lives more comfortable and easy.
The future of automatic speech recognition or ASR, is still very much on the cutting edge as the technology continues to improve and its practical use expands. In the medical arena, patient history is easily translated from dictation by doctors into a medical record. Meanwhile, in the legal profession, court reporters make use of the technology during courtroom settings.
As I mentioned earlier, the telecommunications industry is already using ARS whenever you make a hands-free call or when you call in to pay your bill. The customer service savvy companies are even using special soothing or sexy sounding voices to assuage angry customers and improve customer feedback.
Even the U.S. military has a critical need for this type of technology. “Electronic crewmembers” will reduce human casualties and loss of human life and won’t question a command of a human operator during times of combat. ASR is also becoming a valuable asset to military members during times when an immediate and accurate language translation is required.
Over the next few years, ASR technology will become more prevalent among everyday computer users. Perhaps the standard keyboard will begin its exit much like the horse and buggy? Either way, voice recognition software is here to stay and will help reduce the likelihood of repetitive motion injuries while improving efficiency and productivity.