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.