Is Voice Control Coming Back?

  |  July 24, 2009   |  Comments

Speech recognition technologies continue to show improvement. Are they ready for marketing use?

Ever since the dawn of time, voice control of computers has been an interesting topic. I remember software applications 15 years ago that let you run your computer via voice control. They were always clunky, usually required you to speak using strictly separated words, and were mediocre at best. IBM's Via Voice (owned by Nuance since 2003) is one of those products available in the early days and has been steadily improving over the years. Its Dragon NaturallySpeaking product has been around forever it seems. Any Star Trek loyalist or sci-fi enthusiast will tell you that voice control over computers is one of the oldest ideas out there.

But I haven't really cared, to be honest. I tried this type of technology years ago and it didn't work well, so I gave up. Voice control fell victim to that first incarnation, unfortunately, because while the technology has improved vastly, it never occurred to me to try it again after my initial disappointment.

Then the iPhone got a voice-control feature. At first, even that didn't even impress me much, as the commands seem to be limited. But then I downloaded the Google app for the iPhone. It lets you search on the Web just by saying your search terms. I was blown away by it! It really works! Other apps are springing up that take advantage of the voice-control ability. I have yet to find a good voice-controlled text-messaging app yet, though (one that interfaces with the iPhone's texting capabilities, not one that uses those free Web services for texting).

Is voice control finally ready for primetime? The folks at Dragon NaturallySpeaking would likely say voice control has been ready for primetime for years, but the reality is that outside of special markets (such as the accessibility market), most people don't use voice-activated commands on their computers.

If it is coming back, how can your company harness its strengths to make the customer experience better? Google is an easy example, as is any program that requires manual word entry (compared to simple clicks on a Web site). Lots of states are considering banning text messaging while driving, so there is an obvious litigious reason this technology is becoming interesting on mobile devices. But speech recognition has existed for years on the good old desktop computer, so we should also think of ways to harness it on our desktops, Web sites, in-store kiosks, ATMs, and so forth.

Could your business benefit from using speech recognition? In a previous column, I discussed how your business might benefit from visual recognition. Similarly, I wonder how business might harness speech recognition. Typically, there are two kinds: command recognition and free-text recognition. The former lets the user perform tasks specific to your business or application; the latter lets any text be spoken instead of typed.

Now that we have comment ability here at ClickZ, let's use it! Leave your comments below on speech recognition. Is it ready for primetime yet? Will the iPhone finally bring it to the masses (because we could argue it's been ready for primetime for awhile)? And more important, what businesses would benefit from this technology if it becomes mainstream across all platforms, including mobile, desktop, and kiosks?

I'll be interested to see how the conversation unfolds!

Until next time...

Jack

Join us for Search Engine Strategies San Jose, August 10-14, 2009, at the McEnery Convention Center. Spend Day 1 learning about social media and video strategies with ClickZ.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jack Aaronson

Jack Aaronson, CEO of The Aaronson Group and corporate lecturer, is a sought-after expert on enhanced user experiences, customer conversion, retention, and loyalty. If only a small percentage of people who arrive at your home page transact with your company (and even fewer return to transact again), Jack and his company can help. He also publishes a newsletter about multichannel marketing, personalization, user experience, and other related issues. He has keynoted most major marketing conferences around the world and regularly speaks at Shop.org and other major industry shows. You can learn more about Jack through his LinkedIn profile.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.

Jobs

    • Tier 1 Support Specialist
      Tier 1 Support Specialist (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreThis position requires a highly motivated and multifaceted individual to contribute to and be...
    • Recent Grads: Customer Service Representative
      Recent Grads: Customer Service Representative (Agora Financial) - BaltimoreAgora Financial, one of the nation's largest independent publishers...
    • Managing Editor
      Managing Editor (Common Sense Publishing) - BaltimoreWE’RE HIRING: WE NEED AN AMAZING EDITOR TO POLISH WORLD-CLASS CONTENT   The Palm...