Friday, October 14, 2011

Innovation of the Day: Siri, the voice control fairy.

In the NYT video below, iPhone-based virtual assistant Siri beats a human assistant in solving "girlfriend situation."

The episode reminded me the work we did at Philips Research Silicon Valley ten years ago, trying to marry voice control to a mobile device.

Unfortunately for us, phone hardware was not good enough to perform necessary computations in real time. Now, when you have gigahertz processors and graphics chips on a mobile device, mapping simultaneous inputs from multiple sources can finally be done. The problem of user interaction with a tiny device is fundamental. As the density of information we exchange through the device increases, information resolution, i.e. user ability to discriminate between items available on the device, has to increase as well. Zooming in and out is one way to do it. Accessing via voice and touch, as Siri does, would be another.

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