The year 2018 will see many devices using voice recognition. There are several manufacturers who have developed the technology, but as yet the software is used in home products. The best known of these is Alexa. which can:-
- set timers, tell you the time
- turn lights on and off
- tell you about your appointments
- tell you about your commute via National Rail
- give you the weather forecast
- give details of recipes
- read the Guardian aloud
- play music
- answer questions
Additionally, the Smart Home Controls support connected devices, from speakers to remote controls, to lights, and coffee machines.
How to Operate Voice Recognition Devices
Once set up, it is important to address the device correctly. To make the technology know that you are talking to it, you have to say, for example, ‘Alexa, turn on the lights in the living room.’ Hey presto the lights are switched on! Likewise, with Google Home, it needs to be addressed in a specific way. By saying ‘OK, Google’ or ‘Hey Google’ the device knows that a command will come next.
Case Study – How Voice Recognition helps partially sighted, elderly man to gain better quality of life with a Google Home Mini
In an area which had minimal broadband speeds [0.3Mbps] technology was always going to be difficult. However, without a radio, he was isolated and had lost his feeling of self-worth and his future was dire. On being bought a Google Mini his family was able to set it up so that he could
- stream his favourite radio channels
- learn about the news and weather
- set countdown timers and alarm
- create reminders
- add items to a shopping list
- listen to music
It is hoped that with further programming he will be able to send emails. A miracle had just happened! His world had opened up and he was able to keep up with what was going on in the rest of the world. His days now had meaning and anyone visiting him could hold meaningful conversations.
His mental health and attitude to life brightened, he was no longer an isolate. He had become a member of wider society a true bonus!
Voice Recognition and Business
Voice recognition in business has been confined to:-
- ordering supplies, orders being on previous purchases
- managing a To-Do-List
- translation, ideal for businesses who export
- controlling the office robot cleaner
- calling a taxi
- tracking drivers and reports on driving skills
- providing ambient music, to help workers
These are all positives; however, penetration tests have shown some concerns regarding security. It is feared that always-listening devices, such as smart TV’s and virtual assistants, can transmit data back to the product’s parent company. The information is then used for things such as data mining.
To use this technology rigorous hacking tests will need to be taken. There will always be concerns regarding corporate and government hacking. Currently, cyber researchers have found that connected devices are a favoured way to breach a company’s security protocols.
This is the age of the Internet of Things when smart connected devices, some of which will be voice controlled, can be managed, but at a possible risk of being hacked. This technology is new and evolving by the day. It is envisaged that with time, these risks will be reduced and patched up. It is expected that once one problem is solved the hackers will find new methods to enter the system. However, the beginnings of a robotic age for home and small businesses is now with us and very unlikely to go away!