July 7, 2008

TechCrunchIT rants against voice recognition

TechCrunchIT ranted yesterday against voice recognition. Parts of the argument have validity, but I think the overall argument was overstated.

Key points included:

1. Microsoft and Bill Gates have been overoptimistic about voice recognition.

2. Who needs voice when you have keyboards big and small?

3. The office environment is too noisy for voice recognition to work.

In particular, TechcrunchIT wrote:

In a real-world enterprise environment, it is impossible to imagine a room full of people all using voice dictation at their computers. The background noise is difficult to filter out, and the modern office environment is full of interruptions with phones ringing, instant messages, new emails and more.

That part of the argument can be refuted in one word — headphones — but other parts carry a bit more weight. For example, so long as it is true that:

When typing at a keyboard, you can easily multi-task and stop/start easily while switching between programs. With voice recognition, you need to pause or stop recording and specifically tell the application when you are actually speaking to it by pressing a button.

voice recognition won’t grow beyond niche status. But it will remain true until computers have effective command-line interfaces that work seamlessly among multiple applications. And I’m not aware that such interfaces have shown much progress to date.


2 Responses to “TechCrunchIT rants against voice recognition”

  1. Kristina on July 7th, 2008 6:21 am

    The main reason I am excited about voice recognition because it brings us ooooone step closer to the Enterprise

  2. Daniel Weinreb on July 8th, 2008 6:52 am

    Point 1 is silly. Point 2: people with carpal-tunnel syndrome! And people who cannot touch-type. 3. We do not all work in rooms with many people in them. So how about executives who do not touch-type and have single-person offices?

    Of course, these objections only apply to using voice recognition instead of typing on your office computer. There are many other applications of voice recognition. A medical transcriber, working in a nice quiet space, is one example (see eScription). And then there are cars and cell phones and such. I love my car’s navigation system that takes directions using voice recognition, so that I can use it while driving.

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