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Will typing become obsolete in 10 years?

With the rise of voice-controlled devices like Apple’s Siri on the iPhone and Amazon’s Alexa on the Echo, humanity is finally seeing (or should that be hearing) machines respond to the natural interface we use to interact with each other on a day-to-day basis; talking. The keyboard has served us well over the last 200 years but if God had intended it to be the only way we operate computers, surely he would have given us 26 fingers instead of 10. As Artificial Intelligence becomes ever more sophisticated, hardware better to detect and decode someone’s voice and the Cloud doing away with data limitations, we are at the tip of the iceberg of voice controlled appliances - what might they look like in the future and how might they enrich our lives for the better?

Voice activation has been around for a long time. In fact, the term IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition) has been around since the 1970s. The technology was very expensive and limited to detecting only small vocabularies. IVR has become more synonymous with just pressing buttons on the telephone rather than the voice bit. This is all changing now and changing fast, as the accuracy and execution of speech recognition applications become ever more reliable.

A few years ago, Nuance launched their Dragon app - dictate and it will type out your talking, verbatim, to be used in a text message or Word document. Last year HSBC brought out a new system which bypasses the security questions when you call. The bank has your voice print on file, and all you say to access your account is “My voice is my passport”.

In the 1950s we thought the future was one robot in every household doing the chores we didn’t want to do. Now it looks like we’ll have lots of little robots integrated into our gadgets all around the home which we’ll be able to command by simply asking. You’ll be able to speak to your kettle, toaster or hoover, which will all be connected to the internet through your wi-fi network and they’ll be able to talk to each other. Your fridge will know when to order some more milk for delivery when you’re running low, you’ll be able to turn off the lights by just saying “Lights out” or lock the front door by saying “Lock door”. The internet of things.

The world of AI is developing fast and our natural way to interact is with our voice. This is very exciting, if not a little scary, as to where the future might take us. So in 10 years’ time, when you start talking to the cash machine instead of punching in your PIN number, this won’t be science fiction…this will be science fact.

by Jon. June 2017.


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