Build your own Siri

by Vittoria Marino on 04/18/2014

“Computer, calculate the route to Alpha quadrant.”
“Route calculated.”
“Computer, calculate traveling time.”
“Four Earth days.”

That’s a typical human-computer dialogue from any science fiction movie. Did you ever notice that in science fiction stories the man-machine interaction is nearly always voice-based? Amit Singhal, Google engineer and Senior VP of the company, explains, “Captain Kirk never needed a keyboard to ask the computer a question.” And deep down I think we’d all like to be able to do it his way. I certainly would!

The idea of being able to interact with technology by speaking normally, in the same way we communicate with other people, was truly science fiction until just a few years ago. But today, the results that Google and Apple have achieved show us that science fiction stories are not so far away after all. On the contrary, it’s already happening!

Use of voice commands is spreading widely, especially in mobile. Not only does voice allow you to keep your hands free, it also reduces the number of operations separating users from information. This makes applications simpler and more natural to use. In the future, voice commands will probably be the only way to interact with wearable devices – think for example of Google Glass or Android Wear.

Starting with version 13.0, applications made with Instant Developer can also be voice commanded. Thanks to Google’s Speech API, voice commands can be integrated into online applications that run on Chrome. Simply by speaking, users can navigate panels, perform searches, and run procedures. Watch the demo video, or better yet, try it yourself with the test application I made so you can have a chat with your computer immediately. If you’re interested in seeing how it’s made, the project is also available.

If instead you’d like to activate voice recognition in your applications, simple activate the Enable voice commands compiling parameter, and you’ll be ready to talk to your software. To learn more, have a look at the User’s Guide.

Fortunately, we don’t run the risk of any evil computers like Hall 9000, and although we’re still a long way from his level of intelligence, the results so far are encouraging. We’re just beginning this new task, and your feedback will be extremely helpful in future developments of InDe voice recognition.

At this point it would be nice to say “Computer, click like on this article,” don’t you think?

Do you agree that voice recognition will be the interface of the future?

  •    Yes, I want to integrate voice recognition into my new apps!
  •    It's interesting, but it will take time before it really spreads.
  •    I don't think the interface of the future will have to do with voice.
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