In present times, almost every individual with a smartphone or a laptop has some kind of experience with voice technology. Voice technology is slowly but definitely changing the way we use our devices, allowing us to fulfill different tasks like checking the weather, setting an alarm or even ordering a sandwich, by just using our voice.
The foundations of voice recognition technology were laid a long time back. Early on, voice recognition essentially concentrated on the generation of vowel sounds based on which the system may also interpret phonemes (the foundation of speech). Thomas Edison introduced dictation machines in the latter part of the 19th century, which had the ability to record speech. However, it was only after the 1950s that this line of development led to actual speech recognition.
Till the 1990s, the basis of the most successful systems was template matching, which involved the translation and storage of sound waves into a group of numbers. When a similar sound was made into the machine, these would be activated. In the mid-1980s, IBM Tangora was launched, which had the ability to adapt to the speaker’s voice. Tangora was able to identify almost 20,000 English words as well as some complete sentences.
It was at this point that the foundation of voice recognition was laid. Voice recognition could be successful when the system adapted to every individual’s distinct way of communication.
Google Voice Search app was launched for iPhone in 2008. The Voice Search presented stark improvements in the degree of precision as compared to the earlier voice recognition technologies. Google also brought in aspects of personalization into its voice search results, following which Google Assistant, which is installed in approximately 50% of all smartphones, was released.
However, it was the introduction of Siri by Apple that first added a touch of humanity to the field of voice recognition. Microsoft then introduced Cortana, followed by the launch of Alexa by Amazon, leading to high competition in the market.
Voice recognition apps are changing the way we interact with machines. More and more people are now relying on their voice to perform actions on their machines. This is because when on the go, it is much easier to use our voice to get things done.
Amazon Alexa is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon, which was first installed in the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers. It has the ability to perform different functions, such as voice interaction, creating to-do lists, setting alarms, playing audiobooks and giving updates on weather, sports, traffic, etc.
Some devices that have the Alexa installed include:
- Xiaomi Yeelight Smart Bulb: available at Amazon for $19.99
- Aukey Wi-Fi Smart plug: available at Amazon for $27.99
- iClever Smart Plug: available at Amazon for $27.99
- Home ISP100: available at Amazon and Walmart for $34.44
- iPhilips Hue White LED Starter Kit: available at Amazon for $59