Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Google I/O 2013: Voice Search on the Desktop Using Google

by Dietrich Schmitz

Alright, Apple may have a head-start with their iPhone Siri voice search system, but one of the neat things shown at the Google I/O 2013 conference last week is the new Conversational Search, which is now available in Chrome version 27 which was updated today.

If you've got that version of Google Chrome, you'll notice in the search field to right-most extent a 'Microphone' symbol.  Clicking that symbol will activate voice search.  I tried it by saying: "Open the pod bay doors HAL", hoping desperately to hear HAL come back with "I'm sorry Dave, I am afraid I can't do that".

But dutifully complied by performing a Google search using that exact string of text and found the movie 2001 Space Odyssey at  I am disappointed. (kidding):

Me, using Google trying to ask HAL to open the frickin' pod bay door.
Clearly, it's not a perfect science, and given HAL recognized voice quite a few years ago, I would suspect that there is some serious intellectual property infringed patents at issue here.  Time to get the PAEs (cough trolls) on the horn, perhaps?  Put me through to Dewey Cheatum and Howe right now.

Anyhow, if you really want to see how voice recognition works correctly, here's a short Youtube video from the 2001 Space Odyssey showing Dave's mastery of voice activated search:

Alright so I kid.  But I couldn't help but think about this movie as I uttered my search in Google wondering if we are getting closer to doing what the fantasy of movie making did in spurring the imagination with wild and fanciful story telling mixed with surreal technology non-existent at the time of making this classic (1968).  Pretty wild stuff then and I would add still pretty wild that I sit here, one with something called a Netbook, using something called wireless, magically connecting me to something called a router and cable modem and something even more bizarre called the Internet.  Is this a dream?  I hope not.  It's a movie and it's getting better and better with each technology du jour announcement.

Okay enough of my carrying on, here's a video from the Google I/O conference demonstrating the use of this new Chrome technology for your viewing pleasure:

So, that's it, the hotkey ("Okay Google") didn't work for me.  I suspect that will be worked out in due course.  As is demonstrated, this technology appears to be on par with Siri.  As I mentioned above, Voice Search is available as of today in Chrome 27 for Windows, Linux and Macs and is also available in all Chromebooks.  Have fun.

-- Dietrich

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