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Driving into the parking lot of your grocery store, you ask your car where the closest parking spot is –it responds by driving you to the exact space. Inside the store, you ask your watch where the sliced sausage is located. It takes you on a turn-by-turn route through the back of the store to the exact case.
Sounds impossible? The speed at which voice recognition is advancing, both of these scenarios are only a short time from coming to fruition. Today, you can use speech recognition to ask your smartphone to search the Internet, arrange your schedule and choose the right wine for dinner. Speech recognition is used to help callers navigate customer service menus, and is used by writers around the world to rapidly create documents, essays and web content.
Here are five ways you can expect speech recognition software to change your life in the future.
People with Disabilities
Speech recognition software provides many opportunities for people with disabilities including brain injuries, dyslexia, limited motor ability, vision problems and physical limitations. Disabled people are already using voice recognition to operate their computer, write documents and dial their phone. In the future, they will benefit from speech recognition for wheelchair navigation, household appliance operation and other tasks. More importantly, it increases their independence which boosts self-esteem and decreases anxiety. Challenges include training people with disabilities to use advanced programs, handling those with speech difficulties and follow-up programs to manage any ongoing problems.
One of the most exciting uses of speech recognition is in the field of self-driving cars. All major car manufacturers are building driverless cars to offer for sale. In fact, a new Mercedes self-driving car allows the driver to spin his chair around and talk to other passengers. He can travel with his back to the front window while driving, communicating with the car through speech recognition, telling it to turn or change lanes as desired.
Personal Robot Assistants
Many people are familiar with the small automated room vacuums that silently move back and forth across carpets picking up dirt and dust. These robots are just the beginning. Soon we will see many advanced robot assistants in homes. Using speech recognition, they will be able to understand commands and instructions that allow them to carry out tasks such as cleaning, cooking, pet care and more.
Speech recognition also plays a major role in smart homes. Homeowners will be able to talk to their homes and tell it to raise the temperature, lower the temperature, lock the doors, start the air-conditioning, close the garage door, check the furnace to see if the air filter needs changing, check the humidity, schedule security lights operation and more. This is especially useful for people like senior citizens who may find it more convenient to give a voice command rather than make a difficult trip across the room to change a thermostat.
Speech recognition will make a significant impact on home entertainment. Viewers will be able to record programs in advance, change channels, program music selections, lower and raise volume, and decrease volume during commercials all using voice commands. Future enhancements will include allowing viewers to change camera angles during live sporting events by calling out different camera numbers as the game progresses.
Much like the smart home, the smart kitchen will respond to speech recognition. Home cooks will issue voice commands that change the level of heat on a burner, toast bread until it is perfectly brown, wash dishes with the exact level of detergent, and order new groceries from an online grocery store.
One way that speech recognition will advance is by using context and other data. For example, a mapping program in your car might have difficulty finding a restaurant with an unusual spelling. New software will pull other information to cross index against the restaurant name to make it easier for the computer to find the location. Although this technology demands enormous processing power, it is possible due to the increased amounts of data modern processors can handle.
The combination of increased amounts of data, cloud technology, and powerful servers is allowing rapid changes in speech recognition software. The amount of computing power in a smart phone is the equivalent of a lab computer in the early 1990s. At the same time, the rise in the use of mobile devices and the expansion of Internet access in appliances, clothing and furniture will continue to create exciting new applications for speech recognition in your daily life.