What if everything was done at the command of the voice?


by DGonzo2015
Tags: engineering, future
DGonzo2015
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#1
Jul30-13, 09:19 PM
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I was just thinking: what if there's some kind of button which you press, and microphone, or something similar to that, and you speak into that, such as "make toast", or "let dogs out", and through wired cables, or wireless (idk), a voice-recognizing program stored in an electronic system initiates the task?

That way, everything in the house can be controlled by the command of a voice, and robots. So I said, why doesn't this exist yet? It MUST be impossible, but I don't see WHY this would be a hard thing to accomplish this.

If someone can provide some intuition behind the difficulties of this concept, that would be awesome!
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Simon Bridge
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#2
Jul30-13, 10:20 PM
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It does exist - the device is called "a servant".
You do have to grow them, but that seems to largely take care of itself.

The difficulties for dead machines being voice controlled are pretty much the same as for getting good servants - with the added technological requirements for voice recognition - and differentiation.

i.e. you say to someone else, "would you like to see the machine make toast or you want to see something else?" and the machine hears: "blah blah blah MAKE TOAST blah blah blah" ... or what if you are a Scot and you tell the machine tae mak ye tersties yeken" ... if you've ever used voice-recognition on a wordprocessor you'll see what I mean.

Lots of people are working on it though.
Some phone apps have pretty decent voice recognition and I've seen a toy that can recognize some basic speech patterns and respond to them.
SteamKing
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Jul30-13, 10:23 PM
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We do things now with devices that didn't exist less than 10 years ago, things like tablet computers and iphones. What was impossible that short amount of time in the past is ubiquitous now. Certain computing tasks can now be voice activated and voice controlled. What you are describing is roughly possible with current technology, but most people don't see the need to talk to a toaster and while the dogs can be let out, a computer can't run them down and drag them back home.

Simon Bridge
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Jul31-13, 01:19 AM
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What if everything was done at the command of the voice?


A dog could wear a collar that plays recorded commands on a signal (voice activated from home, or if a gps tracker, also on the collar, indicates the dog is too far away.) Requires a well trained dog though.

Basically the smart house is realizable right now - the main impediment is economic: consider - you can install a gadget to open and close curtains by voice command at some cost and trouble or you can just pull the cord... any new tech has to offer some benefit suficient to offset the cost. Presumably when the voice-activated curtain gadget costs less than normal cord curtains, they'll be more widely adopted.
russ_watters
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#5
Jul31-13, 05:50 AM
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Quote Quote by DGonzo2015 View Post
So I said, why doesn't this exist yet? It MUST be impossible, but I don't see WHY this would be a hard thing to accomplish this.
It isn't difficult, just expensive for what you get. Who wants to buy a $500 toaster?
DGonzo2015
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#6
Jul31-13, 07:47 AM
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OK, I get it now! I guess the technology isn't perfect...and very expensive. It seems like many of the 'unreachable' technology is blocked from us by the economy, and practicality.
Ryan_m_b
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#7
Jul31-13, 07:52 AM
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You're basically asking for all household appliances to be controlled through some form of natural language user interface. Whilst this technology has come along way it is still early stages and there are many challenges:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natur...user_interface

You'd also have to build appliances differently so that they require less user input e.g a toaster that can fill itself with bread, a door that can unlock/open on motors, curtains on wires etc. The problem with this though is whilst it might be doable and look cool it's really not that much better than just manually using the device and is likely to be far more expensive. A good example of this is voice and motion control in games consoles which regularly get criticised as being slower and less reliable than just pressing buttons.
Lsos
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#8
Aug8-13, 07:46 AM
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I also feel pretty stupid talking to a machine....
Simon Bridge
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Aug8-13, 06:37 PM
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Quote Quote by Lsos View Post
I also feel pretty stupid talking to a machine....
You must never leave voicemail then?
Or:
talk directly to camera
use a dictophone
use the voice recognition features in your phone

you seem to be happy writing to a machine?

It's interesting how our perceptions change with technology.
Lsos
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#10
Aug14-13, 07:44 AM
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With a voicemail I'm ultimately talking to a human. With a camera, it's also for human consumption. I'm writing now, but it's to a human, not a machine. But maybe that's not even what it's about....

....maybe it's more because I just don't like drawing unnecessary attention to myself. I prefer to text message over speaking on the phone, for example. I don't like talking on the phone public, having a loud ringtone, etc.

The point is, I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way (the whole of Japan is like this, from what I understand), so having voice-activated everything is not always the best solution.
Simon Bridge
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#11
Aug15-13, 07:46 PM
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How do you know I'm human ;) you run a Turing test on me already?
How are the voice-activated stuff not, ultimately, for human consumption?
Many people don't realize, however uncomfortable they may be with the realization, how much they talk to machines already.

Note: japan has quite a of of 'talking to machines" in dtd life, and they are pioneering household voice-activated interactive robots. Maybe your smart-house could be programmed to be more responsive in the same way - so you may as well be talking to a polite human servant - maybe the doors will thank you for the opportunity to open for you and close again with the knowledge of a job well done :)
johnbbahm
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#12
Aug20-13, 02:21 PM
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The voice recognition piece is for all practical purposes complete.
the next big piece will be security and authentication, (is it really you speaking?)
We are already seeing hacking issues with smart home devices.
Simon Bridge
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#13
Aug20-13, 07:26 PM
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.. and: "are you really talking to me?"
timthereaper
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#14
Aug21-13, 02:11 PM
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I see a few problems with voice-activated everything:

1. IMO, voice activated commands aren't good for machines that only do one thing or only has a few settings. I would much rather push one button to make toast or control the darkness with a dial rather than have to tell the toaster to do it. For a smartphone, it makes more sense because there's so many functions and settings to browse through.

2. If you're repeating a basic command several times, it gets annoying. I was on a project where we used voice recognition to try to control a CAD geometry system. After telling the machine several times to draw lines or extrude sketches, I couldn't use the interface anymore.

3. How do I know if what I'm saying isn't triggering the appliance? If I was talking about my favorite way to make toast in the kitchen to my friend, I'd rather not worry about the toaster interpreting that as a command. That would make my bread supplies dwindle and increase my electric bill real quick.

4. There's something about haptic feedback that humans like. We like that sense of touch, of manual control. By talking to something, we give up the control of doing how we want to do it. Sometimes, we only care that the task is done, but sometimes we're kinda particular.

5. Automation doesn't always make things better for all users. It's like the automatic transmission or the graphical user interface. Street racers and Linux gurus will tell you that "easier" doesn't always mean better.

6. Sometimes it's quicker to turn a knob or push a button or move a joystick than it is to say it out loud.


What you really want is a nice balance of both (semi-)manual and voice-controlled features. Sometimes it's natural to want to say something and have it done. Sometimes you want to push a button. I think in the future we'll have our personal computing device (like a smartphone or small tablet) become the controller of a bunch of devices in our vicinity. Resting your phone on your desk near a computer will link them via something like Bluetooth. Being in the kitchen will connect your phone to the smart appliances and allow you to control them. If you wanted to do some sort of voice-activated commands, you could click the voice-command button on your phone and control a specific device. Otherwise, you could control them with buttons and dials on the phone or on the devices themselves.
Simon Bridge
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#15
Aug21-13, 04:23 PM
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I see a few problems with voice-activated everything:
Everything? Hmmm... voice controlled vibrator/sleeve ... yes, yes I see your point.

What you really want is a nice balance of both...
I'd settle for voice controlled children ...


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