Doctors work long hours, and a disturbingly large part of that is documenting patient visits -- one study indicates that they spend 6 hours of an 11-hour day making sure their records are up to snuff. But how do you streamline that work without hiring an army of note takers? Google Brain and Stanford think voice recognition is the answer. They recently partnered on a study that used automatic speech recognition (similar to what you'd find in Google Assistant or Google Translate) to transcribe both doctors and patients during a session.
Burger King pulled a pretty juicy marketing stunt last month that drew plenty of attention - not just to the Whopper, but also to the intrinsic vulnerabilities of a new type of voice-activated gadget. The fast food chain's 15-second television ad targeted Google Home, a speaker that can answer questions and control other smart appliances. When an actor in the ad said "OK, Google" and asked a question about the Whopper, Google Home obediently began reading the burger's ingredients in homes around the country - effectively extending the commercial for however long it took someone to shout "OK, Google, stop!" FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, file photo, Google Home, right, sits on display near a Pixel phone following a product event, in San Francisco. Voice assistants such as Google Home, Apple's Siri and Amazon Alexa have always been susceptible to accidental hijack. Burger King's manipulation of Google Home illustrates the vulnerabilities intrinsic to voice assistants that can be targeted by brands, or worse, hackers.
The idea of talking conversationally to computers has been a long time in the works. Science fiction is so often a self-fulfilling prophecy as it provides a vision for humans to chase after with technological innovation. For those of us who have watched voice-based computer interactions evolve, we have seen it go through many manifestations as it grew up. We now find ourselves in a world where using voice to interface with a computer is commonplace on a regular basis for the masses. While I'm not quite confident we have reached an inflection point, I am confident we are at least on the cusp of one with voice-based user interfaces and the vision of the Hal 9000 (The AI assistant of Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey series) and Jarvis (the voice based AI assistant of Iron Man).
Amazon is reportedly working on a new feature for its Alexa voice assistant that would allow for individual voice recognition, according to a report from Time. In other words, your Echo would theoretically be able to tell voices apart and figure out who is actually talking to it. According to Time, the feature is internally known as "Voice ID" and has been in development since summer 2015. The report claims that Voice ID would allow certain commands to be locked to a specific voice -- for example, only allowing the account holder to purchase things off Amazon (something that's certainly been an issue in the past). Alexa actually already supports multiple user profiles and PIN verification for purchases, but automating the process through voice recognition would certainly make it easier to take advantage of those features.
SAN FRANCISCO - As handy as all our voice recognition friends are, conversing with them still feels you're talking to a foreign relative. Whether its Siri (Apple) or Alexa (Amazon) or Google Assistant or Cortana (Microsoft), each requires the human to speak in slow, articulated phrases to increase the odds of comprehension. But researchers at Microsoft say they've reached a milestone that promises a future where machines can transcribe us as well as another person. In a paper published Monday called "Achieving Human Parity in Conversational Speech Recognition," engineers with Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research announced they'd developed a speech recognition system that makes the same or fewer errors as professional transcriptionists. The team hit a word error rate of 5.9 percent, down from the 6.3 percent WER the team reported just last month.