Phys.org’s “Wintermute voice assistant makes intro at CES” article reported Nuance, a tech company from Massachusetts, is working on a software which allows people to use voice to control devices that aren’t necessary using the same operating system. This means that when this software of theirs, codename Wintermute, gets to the market, the users will be able to use voice to control all devices with ease. Furthermore, Phys.org reported that this voice assistant software will also work in such a wonderful way that the users will be able to rely on their voices to for an example, abstractedly reveal the intention from one device and yet to be able to have another device does a follow up on the same intention.
Confuse? Let say, you use this voice assistant software to check out some information about a movie you want to watch in theater on a tablet. All of the sudden, you switch to PC and ask for the same voice assistant to buy a movie ticket for you without telling it about the movie you want to buy a ticket for and which theater you would like to go to. If this voice assistant software is going to be really good, it definitely knows what movie you have had intensively searched for from the search engine on a tablet and automatically looking for ticket information of this particular movie in the closest theater near you on a PC. When it got all the necessary preparations down, it would then ask you to approve the purchase of the movie ticket through voice, and you can simply reply back with a simple yes or no or a not so simple answer which this voice assistant software would then offer you more choices to decide. Obviously, if you decide that you want to cancel the whole shebang, you can simply tell it like it is such as “Let cancel the whole thing,” and the voice assistant would just record your decision for further analyzing to further its own smartness while it goes ahead and cancel the whole movie ticket buying thing.
In truth, I’m not sure will Nuance’s voice assistant will be capable of the things I mentioned, but it does sound like Nuance’s voice assistant might be able to do some of the things I mentioned, because Phys.org reported that Nuance’s voice assistant prototype was able to pull up a football game on TV when a user had merely browsed for the football game score on the smartphone. So, I think Nuance’s voice assistant might be able to understand the users abstractedly somewhat. Nonetheless, abstract thinking isn’t something computers can easily tackle, therefore I’m not too sure about Nuance’s voice assistant performance. Just take a look at Siri and other voice assistants from other smartphone platforms, all in all these software/apps perform rather poorly. These voice assistant software/apps often misunderstand the users’ voice commands and intentions. If Nuance’s voice assistant can be smarter than the rest, I definitely love to see it in action!
Phys.org reported Nuance is going to rely on the power of the cloud networking to service its voice assistant software. Through the cloud servers, Nuance’s voice assistant software will be able to synch the information from one device to another, because Nuance’s voice assistant software needs to be able to analyze what the users have done from one device to another. Furthermore, I think that in order for the users to be able to use Nuance’s voice assistant across devices and platforms, the users might have to install Nuance’s voice assistant software on all devices and platforms that they’re going to use. This might not be a convenient thing to do, because the users might have to update, upgrade, or remove Nuance’s voice assistants from all devices too.
I think Nuance’s voice assistant software is a cool idea, but I wonder how Nuance will deal with privacy. It’s a very powerful thing for a software to know the intents of the users. Furthermore, if a hacker can hack into Nuance’s voice assistant software, will this hacker has the control of all devices that Nuance’s voice assistant software serves? Imagine the things a hacker can do with all devices at once. Turning them into zombies and so on… Anyhow, the privacy and security issues are two sticky issues that cloud services often have to contend with. So, in this sense these two hot issues are not only Nuance’s voice assistant software’s problems, but these problems are all cloud services’ problems.
I’m not sure if Nuance can deliver this sort of all device interaction for its upcoming voice assistant software, but it sure does sound promising from what I’d read on Nuance’s Wintermute project on Phys.org. Until then, I guess I be wishing for Nuance to release their work really soon. Until then, let us all use the current single platform voice assistant software such as Siri or whatever we have on our devices.
- Wintermute voice assistant makes intro at CES (phys.org)
- CES 2013: Nuance Uncovers “Wintermute” Cross-Platform Cloud Assistant (dailytech.com)
- Nuance Wintermute hands-on: a cross-platform, cloud-based personal assistant (engadget.com)
- Nuance’s Project Wintermute targets Siri and Google Now with cross-platform virtual assistant (engadget.com)
- Nuance hopes to make cross-platform voice recognition a reality with Project Wintermute (theverge.com)
- Nuance’s Project Wintermute: A virtual cloud assistant that follows you across ecosystem boundaries (thenextweb.com)
- Nuance’s new voice-control software tracks your personality across devices (theverge.com)
- Cross-platform Wintermute voice assistant to best Google Now and Siri (video) (phonearena.com)