I’ve not had a lot of luck with voice recognition technology. My Acura MDX tempts me to use the built-in voice commands, but my request for "Nearest Mexican restaurant" ends up with the mind-boggling confirmation that my "Air conditioning is set to 74F."
So, you can imagine just how easy it had been for me to resist using the voice command feature of the Google search application on my iPhone. I simply didn’t have the time to make a fool of myself repeating the same search query over and over again. However, just last week I ended my Google voice virginity and finally used a voice command, instead of typing. The result? A surprising–and satisfying–success!
Apparently I’m not the only one switching from typed searches to voice ones. According to Vic Gundotra, VP of engineering for Google:
"We launched it on the iPhone and have seen a 15% jump in accuracy because, as more people use it, we collect more data and our accuracy gets better."
He also went on to tell San Francisco’s Web 2.0 Expo audience that Google sees a bright future for voice search:
"We believe voice search is a new form of search and that it is core to our business," said Vic Gundotra.
Some people are not so optimistic though. Take the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones. He tried the service last year and claimed the results were "pure gibberish."
For example, his query about the next train, West Ealing to Paddington "delivered some useful information about ‘neck strain’ – but no train times".
The misunderstanding came due to Google struggling to understand non-American accents–in this case the Queen’s English–but those issues have since mostly gone away. (Heck, if it can understand my American/British mongrel accent, it can understand anyone’s!)
The big question is, just how many of us will switch to voice recognition for our search queries? And, do we really want to stand next to some guy at a train station while he asks Google: "How do I treat my hemorrhoids?"