Nuance, the company behind Samsung’s S Voice and (allegedly) Siri, wants to make voice control the default way to interact with technology across the board. Although voice control is already big, the input method is still growing and becoming more intuitive. It’s true that services like Google Now and Siri have a lot of functionality to offer outside of apps, but once you actually have an app open, a lot of that functionality vanishes.
Nuance wants to shatter this barrier by creating a tool called Nuance Mix. This developer’s tool seeks to give app and product designers a simple and elegant way to integrate voice control capabilities with their creations.
On the surface, it looks like a really easy process. Developers will basically just have to supply a list of commands and link those with specific actions to run within their app. Nuance encourages developers to use 10 to 15 different phrases for each action (so “post a status” and “I’d like to update my status” would result in the same action), and Nuance will automatically generate it’s own list of commands from this base. What’s more, Nuance will continue listening for what phrases users try to use to get specific actions to occur, and will adapt on the fly to increase usability.
For instance, you might be scrolling through your Facebook feed and say, “I like that.” A hypothetical app updated with Nuance Mix will intercept the vocal command, interpret it, and ‘like’ the post you’re looking at for you so that you never even have to move your thumb those laborious two inches.
That’s a decadently luxurious example, but there are more practical uses as well. Imagine packing a suitcase, grabbing your keys, and on the way out the door, pausing to say to your thermostat, “Hey, I’m going on vacation for a week.” If your smart home product has been developed with Nuance Mix, it would know to lay off the heating for the next seven days to give your energy bill a break.
Some of us still feel a little goofy talking to pieces of plastic and metal, but voice control really is going to be the interface technology of the future. It’s really no different than typing commands was back in DOS days, the medium is just different and the interpretive capabilities of our devices are more flexible. Nuance knows that voice recognition is a growing field, and they are taking steps to secure their position at the front of the line.
Competition will be fierce, however. Google Now is seeing a rapid expansion in both use and usability, and even though it’s suspected that Nuance is the man behind the curtain for Siri, it’s possible that Apple might start doing it’s own voice recognition work. Once the Nuance Mix kit is released, developers will have to pay to gain access to it. Although it looks like Nuance is trying to make it cheaper for smaller developers to get in on the action, it might be the case that devs find ‘outsourcing’ their voice control to Siri or Google Now to be the easier way to go. Only time will tell.
What are your thoughts about voice controlled apps and smart home products? Ready to have a conversation with your living room? Let us know in the comments!
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