Voice Recognition

Written by Michael O'Brien
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Voice recognition technology is a subject very near and dear to my heart. For two years I worked for a company which helped pioneer a new technology that relied heavily upon voice recognition software. By explaining what we did and how we did it, you'll be able to gain a much better understanding of how it works, how it can be used, and the marvelous importance of this technology.

Voice Recognition: Problem Solving Solutions

The company I worked for used voice recognition technology in order to allow people to access the Internet through a telephone. Navigating from the main menu to the various places a person could visit involved giving specific voice commands. The system was designed to recognize and respond to this verbal input.

One of the most popular features of this service was its email functionality. People could check their email with a simple voice command. A text to speech program would then take the typed content contained in the text of an email and translate into spoken words. Although the computer voice was a little unnatural sounding, it did the job pretty effectively with only a few slight pronunciation problems at first.

Where the True Benefits Lie

Here's where the main benefits of voice recognition technology became apparent. A blind person or someone otherwise unable to operate a computer could do so through the telephone. We had many people who beta tested our service, and this was the chief source of much of the praise we received.

A few sight-impaired people who tried the service mentioned to us that this technology we were developing changed their lives. Finally, they could stay in touch with loved ones and do business through the Internet. Others who tried the service were elderly and did not have any computer knowledge. This technology allowed them to enter into a whole new world as well.

Improved Accessibility

The examples mentioned so far are just a few of the areas where the technology we were developing made life better and more convenient for people. Others loved the fact that they could check stock reports, weather forecasts, and their email through their cell phones while stuck in traffic. The point is, voice recognition technology made it possible, and there's so much more it can do.

Just as the blind were able to use the phone to access email and other Internet services, the entire world of computers is opened up through voice recognition. The main benefit today is having a piece of software that can recognize what a person is saying and digitally transcribe it. This allows such an individual to compose a written document entirely through dictation. Text to speech applications can reverse the process, allowing written text to be heard as audible words spoken by the computer itself.

Voice recognition programs today are even so advanced that they can eventually learn a person's inflections and accent, and use statistical algorithms to more accurately predict what is being said. In other words, the more the software listens to you, the smarter it becomes. The benefits of this technology are vast, and it's getting better over time. Text to speech software is gaining technological momentum by leaps and bounds as well, allowing the computer voice to pronounce words more accurately and to sound more human. Soon, all functions of a computer will be hands free and voice command ready.

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