Voice Recognition - An Optimistic Take.
May 16, 2000 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Voice Recognition - An Optimistic Take. A sunny view of a voice-commanded future. But I'm a little freaked out by their description of "VoiceXML"... someday will we all be saying "Metafilter, CLICK"?
posted by wiremommy (3 comments total)
A while back I worked for a company that was building interfaces for Internet kiosks (at airports, malls, etc.). While I was there we tested using voice recognition to navigate in a browser.

It was a total failure. Not because the software couldn't understand the words, but because users couldn't find the right things to say to get what they wanted. Making voice recognition navigation intuitive will be a whole new challenge.

We're use to trying to make our graphical navigation user friendly, but this is really different. Most users will want to say something like "Go to Yahoo and search for 'web logs'". But what they'll need to say will be something like "Got to Yahoo.com. Search. Web logs." And if every site doesn't follow the same rules the usability will fall apart.

Personally I don't see it ever taking off. I think this is another Iridium sort of thing. Sounds great, has tons of money, but it will never work in the real world. I see it being a niche technology.

Another thing that we found in our testing: When the computer doesn't do what the user wants, they start talking louder. We had to move the test box into it's own room so that we didn't go nuts listening to people screaming at the kiosk. Imagine this is in a public environment. "Go back. Go BACK. GOOO BAAACK!!!!"
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:49 AM on May 16, 2000

And sometimes you just want to shut up.

Moviefone has started using voice recognition on their telephone service. Which I didn't know when I called up from my cell phone at the bagel shop the other day. I figured I'd just key in my zip code, a quick 4-4-4 (for "High Fidelity"), and listen to my movies. What a surprise, then, when Moviefone Guy pulled a Cosmo Kramer on me and declared, "State the name of the movie you'd like to see."

Not only did I have to go from making a silent phone call to randomly announcing, "High Fidelity," to the line at the Bagel Mill, but the first time I was too quiet and the second time I muttered, so Moviefone made me say the name of the movie I'd like to see _three_ _times_ before it could give me any results. At no time did I get the option to not speak. I felt pretty sheepish as I left the store. (I enjoyed the movie, by the way.)

I don't always like to talk, especially in an odd public situation like the one above. I certainly don't want to talk to my computer all day, no matter how bad my RSI gets. What about you?
posted by werty at 12:31 PM on May 16, 2000

It's useful as an option (like say you call Moviefone from a phone that doesn't have letters on the number keys) but certainly not as the user's only choice to accomplish a task.

BTW, separate gripe-- I don't like Moviefone... I used it to buy several tickets to Princess Mononoke for an outing, and they billed my card for it twice-- for $54 and for $45. I disputed it and 3 months later the higher charge came off, but the fact that I was billed twice with two different amounts makes me very wary of the service.
posted by wiremommy at 12:43 PM on May 16, 2000

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