The future of computing: speech recognition

Google VP and senior research engineer Amit Singhal grew up wanting to build the communicator used in the sci-fi series Star Trek. When interviewed in 2012 by The Evening Standard, he said his ultimate dream was to build the Star Trek Communicator of his childhood and provide knowledge on demand. “The key to this is when you can have a Star Trek Googlephone, where you can say, ‘Google, tell me how Alfred Nobel made his money’.

Google’s efforts on mobile and browser, but also Apple with Siri and Apple TV seem to be strong indicators of how many will interact with our devices in the near future: with our voice.

Twenty years ago Belgium-based Lernhout & Hauspie already had this vision. I recall from that period seeing demos of extensive reports being transcribed into MS Word and car audio systems being manipulated by voice commands. BTW, I also recall this funny story about children in the backseat of a demo voice-enabled car messing with the car screen wipers while dad was driving, but that is an entirely other story… Unfortunately L&H went belly up due to Lernhout & Hauspie mismanagement and fraud, but their vision on how we will interact with devices was way ahead of its time.

So it seems Singhal’s dreams are rapidly becoming more realistic. The coming years we will have a Star Trek Communicator in our pockets. A smartphone –Android or iOS based– that interacts to voice commands and will have personal assistant like features integrated with sensors and the cloud. Not convinced? Just check out the most recent Apple Event.