Posted February 22, 2008 12:54 pm by with 9 comments

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Could Microsoft’s push toward speech based data entry bring natural language search to the forefront? According to an AP article:

People will increasingly interact with computers using speech or touch screens rather than keyboards, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said.

“It’s one of the big bets we’re making,” he said during the final stop of a farewell tour before he withdraws from the company’s daily operations in July.

In five years, Microsoft expects more Internet searches to be done through speech than through typing on a keyboard, Gates told about 1,200 students and faculty members Thursday at Carnegie Mellon University.

Speech based searches may not necessarily mean natural language searches. For example, I could speak the phrase “search: hd tv” into my computer and fulfill the requirements of speech data entry without fulfilling the requirements for a natural language search.

That being said, I personally can envision Microsoft trying to integrate speech based data entry as closely as possible with our normal style of speaking. Perhaps the phrase “Where can I buy a hd tv?” would be more natural for searchers when you take away the limitations of the keyboard.

Wide spread speech based data entry will almost certainly impact the way Microsoft and subsequently all other search engines deal with search queries.

Of course, all of this ultimately rests in the hands of the searcher. Will people want to speak to machines in natural language or will they find comfort in their historically keyword driven search vernacular? One way or the other, a shift from keyboard data entry to speech will change the way people search for things on the Internet and how you optimize your site for search engines.

  • I don’t really think I like the idea of talking to a search engine, but I bet it’s on the way anyhow.

  • I think that the technology may need considerable inprovement. I remember cellphones that supposedly dialed the number of the person whose name you spoke, didnt catch no much.

  • I’m sure its on the way. I’d try it.

  • I recall, sometime back, there were cellphones that would supposedly dial the number of the person whose name you spoke, didnt catch on much i think.

  • I’m sure people will love it and people will hate it. It will definitely get attention and be used by millions so why not give it a shot?

    Could you imagine a University computer room – 100+ people talking to a computer…noisy!!! Personally, I’m happy keeping my searches to myself and the keyboard but I do think some people will like it – are they working on post search commands i.e. Scroll down, select 2nd option, go back, visit sponsor

    Should be interesting.

  • I have just been on a similar thread in another forum. There seemed to have been some negative reaction to it with arguments such as the noise and the fact that Bill Gates has not practically progressed this concept. I personally feel that this is inevitable. The internet is about new ideas and the unexpected. I am sure they will find a way to deal with the noise issues.

  • Zen

    The bad thing about speech is that it draws a thin line between privacy and full office awareness.

  • Not only in searching, but in International operation of Computers and Robots.
    There are so many opinions, but the public as well as all who need this capability, will welcome it; and all who think this adds noise and the office can not function with everyone talking to computers, or thinking we all will be working from home because of it, are simply not aware it is not so, and not only privacy is secured, many other benefits come with what I call The EchoLogical Machine.

    USCIIIIII CODE is what will replace ASCII CODE, and my EchoLogical Machines’ invention is the way it will be achieved – because without The GURU INVENTOR and where Microsoft does not want to work with THE INVENTOR, Bill Gates DREAM will stay his hope, while he know I am living nearby and I believe he has seen my emails as well as Paul Allen who does not trust that I am the inventor of my invention and may be someone who came across the idea – but for me and my brainchild, it is silly, as I know and can prove I am the father of my children as well as my brainchild.

    Microsoft DOES NOT KNOW HOW to deliver what we have been expecting for 60 years, first because they do not trust what they can not control, and mostly because they do not want to work with inventors who are gifted with the solution – and in my case, where I made sure I do not go on the wrong road for the solution, they may be concerned with the fact that I come from outside the industry.

    It is good, that Bill Gates does like to see this come true, and I know it is The Salvation to Microsoft, if they work with me on the Universally Intelligent Internet Project of the EchoLogical Machines generation of Computers and Robots – but they need to accept that there are special none technological problems which must be addressed so we can have these computers which can think and sing as well as talk and listen in any natural language and not with the limitations of AI and Artificial voice to speech and speech to text and text to speech, and/or Automatic Translations and/or real and not only limited Virtual and Persona Machines.

    So I have posted some information if you search for the terms I use, or look at a developers’ website where you can see a model but not the trade secrets I own, as this is bigger then IBM+INTEL+APPLE+Microsoft and so on, all put together…

  • akshat

    it is going to happen – i think its the holy grail of computing – not only search but a lot of other stuff as well can be voice enabled – health, education to name a few

    someone somewhere will crack it