Speech rec: Moving beyond commands to conversations

The speech recognition built into our phones, computers, and cars today is mostly about dictation or commands: writing a short e-mail, or asking Siri to pull up the weather in Dallas.

But where we’re heading is toward more conversationality: not just asking for one thing, but describing what you’re looking for in more detail, and having the software supply a better answer. If you asked a colleague about a good place for a business lunch in lower Manhattan, they might ask you some questions: is money no object? What kinds of food do you like? Software is evolving in that direction.

This demo from Veveo offers a glimpse at what’s coming. They’ve developed an iPad app to help you navigate your available television viewing options by speaking. You can ask for a list of upcoming movies that have won Oscars, for instance, and then follow with, “What about dramas?” and then ask for a specific director or star. It remembers your prior questions, and helps you drill down through its database. Chief marketing officer Sam Vasisht says that a dozen major cable and satellite providers are currently testing Veveo’s product, InstantVideo, as a way of accessing video on smart TVs, set-top boxes, tablets, and phones.

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