Wintermute Voice Assistant That Works Across Platforms And Follows You Everywhere?

Nuance stand at GSMA Barcelona 2008

Nuance stand at GSMA Barcelona 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

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Apple Needs To Do Away With Dictation And Let Siri Takes Over On Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Dictation is a new feature on Mac OS X Mountain Lion.  It’s supposed to be one of those features that I would love to use since I write a lot.  Unfortunately, I can barely use Dictation on Mac OS X Mountain Lion on my MacBook Pro.  How come?  Well, let say it’s not yet up to my expectation.  In fact, it is far from pleasing me.

I don’t think I speak that badly in English, because my English accent isn’t bad at all.  Nonetheless, Dictation has constantly failed to dictate what I’m trying to say.  For an example, when I say feature it types out future.  When I say comma to tell it to write a punctuation mark comma into a sentence, it might type out a word of entirely different beast altogether.  Nonetheless, Dictation does work out alright sometimes.  I notice when you want a punctuation mark in a sentence, you’ve to pronounce the punctuation mark out entirely for Dictation to type out a punctuation mark.  It does make sense until I guess you really want a word comma in place of the punctuation mark comma, because Dictation may just as well type out a punctuation mark comma since it dictates that whenever you pronounce a punctuation mark in its entirety — it means you want a punctuation mark and not a word that spells out the punctuation mark.

I kind of feel there is something lacking about having to use shortcut key [fn] to tell Dictation that I’m done writing and wanting to take a break from Dictation.  I guess it’s the same problem as what I had mentioned previously.  Dictation might not be able to discern between a key command and its dictation function.  Perhaps, when you say I’m done talking to you Dictation, Dictation may as well dictate and type out what you have said — but not to actually understand that what you have said is a command to tell Dictation to turn off itself.  To enhance user experience, I guess Apple might have to enhance Dictation in a way that the users don’t really have to tell Dictation that they’re done using Dictation for the time being by clicking on [I’m Done] call out button or using the shortcut key [fn].

Using Dictation with a headphone which has a microphone might be better than otherwise.  I noticed that when I used Dictation with the MacBook Pro’s internal microphone, Dictation did poorly.  Perhaps, Dictation requires the users to speak really clear, and the internal microphone from any Mac might not be able to pickup a user’s voice as well as the headphone’s microphone.

According to MacLife’s “How to Use Dictation in Mountain Lion” article, Dictation does have more than few dictation commands that you can speak to actually tell Dictation to dictate such commands in a document.  One example would be “all caps” — when using this command, Dictation will turn whatever you speak into an all capitalized written text.  This is a great strength of Dictation, but this also reveals Dictation as a crude prototype.  Perhaps, I’m too critical of Dictation since Siri is around?  After all, Dictation isn’t that different from Siri in the perspective that it does have the need to phone home (i.e., upload what the users say to Apple’s servers before Dictation can write out what the users have said onto a document).

Anyhow, in conclusion I think Dictation can be improved further.  Nonetheless, Dictation does provide an alternative way for writing a document.  People like me though may not yet fully embrace Dictation for the reasons I pointed out previously.  Plus, people like me may write better when we type, because when speaking to Dictation it does feel like we talk more than write.  With this I meant, some of us might be able to form better sentences for a document when we type and not otherwise.  In the end, I still think that it’s rather strange for Apple to create Dictation as entirely a different feature when Siri is around.  After all, Dictation isn’t exactly 99.99% accurate in dictation.  In a way, I think Apple might as well combine Dictation and Siri into one for Mac OS X Mountain Lion, because Siri can bring Siri’s own useful features plus Dictation feature to Mac users.  Furthermore, I think with Siri as Dictation and more — the developers don’t really have to worry about two different things altogether (i.e., Dictation and Siri) when they create apps for Mac ecosystem.

Source:  http://www.maclife.com/article/howtos/how_use_dictation_mountain_lion

Watch out Siri, Assistant Is On The Way To Best You!

Google

Google (Photo credit: Daniel Morris)

It’s so obvious to just about anybody that Google has got to be forevermore innovative in its dominant specialty which is Google Search.  You know, the thing that you do on the Internet whenever you stuck and need some answers to your particular problems (i.e., searching the web).  If Google snoozes, plenty of newcomers will overtake Google by being innovative.

Just recently, we have seen waves of innovations that might do just that!  Siri from Apple is one of those waves that might undermine Google’s future!  We know Google’s bread and butter has got to be Adsense and Adwords — these two technologies are relying on Google Search or else things will be moot for Google’s bottom line.  But why Siri and similar technologies?  Siri and similar technologies promise a step up artificial intelligence kind of technology which might be more attractive than just plain smart search engine.  With this in mind, we can see why Google might not like the idea of Siri to be the future search engine, because Adsense and Adwords will become irrelevant and bringing in less revenues when Google Search becomes less popular.

Of course, as now, we might think Siri, Evi, and others are just cosmetic effects for inferior search engines when one compares such things against Google’s effective search engine.  Nonetheless, one must not forget that Siri and the likes are possibly more awesome since it might be applicable for more than just your traditional computers.  People don’t exactly use laptops and desktops on the go as much as how they are with their smartphones, and this is why Siri is much more attractive on smartphones than plain old search engine.  Searching for something through voices can be less painful than typing in things on tiny screens that you often find with tiny smartphones.  And we know nowadays smartphones matter since these things are even more proliferate than laptops and desktops; for entirely different purpose which is surprisingly quite pleasant to many people — they’re going to be used on the road!

What’s more is not all about voice activation but more of the novelty of having a digital assistant.  Of course, as now Siri and the likes might not be exactly how people expect these technologies to be since the intelligence of these technologies aren’t yet quite sophisticated, but giving times I think these technologies will be smarter and then Google really has to worry then.  Imagine how something as Siri can be inside cars, houses, TVs, computers, and more.

It’s that obvious Siri can assist with more things than just being iPhone 4S’s assistant.  And we know we can use Siri or Evi to find things on the web.  What’s more is that Siri allows iPhones owners to execute tasks on their iPhones.  The artificial intelligence is now becoming more apparent as the virtual/virtue of the future of all things digital and real life.  Instead of imagining something much far out, we can just take a look at what we have already imagined and see why artificial intelligence of Siri and the likes will be so successful that Google will be tremble with fear.  It’s all about the Jetsons.  The lifestyle where robots serve their masters is indeed quite appealing!  Siri and the likes can certainly be installed onto robots!  Aren’t our cars becoming more robot-like?

One thing which I’m uncertain about the business model of Siri and the likes is how will the advertising business model fit into this technological picture?  Certainly, it’s quite awkward for Siri to spew commercials right?  We can’t really have or like that right?  I know I won’t!  Anyhow, I think eventually someone might find ways to squeeze in profitable business models for Siri and the likes.

Even Siri and the likes might not yet be profitable for the bearers (i.e., the founders or companies of these technologies), Google is not going to sit idle around for something or someone to usurp its bread and butter. This is why I’m not surprised to read a TechCrunch’s report Google’s Plan To Compete With Apple’s Multi-Platform Siri? Google “Assistant” which has reported that Google is working on a technology which goes beyond Siri to compete against Siri and the likes.  I think TechCrunch’s report mentioned they called Google’s Siri counterpart as Assistant.  Perhaps this name might be up for trademark troll?  Google might just as well better call it as Google Assistant, because the plain Assistant is either too common of a word to trademark or someone probably has used it within a computing field already.  Apple’s recent iPad trademark legal battle against Proview might be the best lesson for Google’s Assistant?

Anyhow, TechCrunch reported that Assistant might emphasize in helping real people solve real problems.  It certainly sounds to me as if Assistant is a better type of artificial intelligence design.  After all, this technology designs to solve people’s real problems, right?  TechCrunch reported that Google might allow third party developers to hook into Assistant’s API to create novel things.  If this is true, then it’s certainly that Google is taking an opposite direction of how utilizing something similar to Siri in general, because Apple is tightly guarding its Siri technology to a point that one can say three words, wall gardened experience.

So, in a sense, now it’s on Apple!  Even though Google has not yet released Assistant, it seems that Apple might better be making Siri as prolific as possible for the market, or else Assistant is going to do just that, stealing the spotlight from Siri eventually!  Luckily for Siri, I think Apple is moving in the direction where Siri can be found to be coupled with even more technologies.  One example would be how Arstechnica reported Siri will be coupled with Mercedes so drivers can use Siri to command Mercedes to do things (e.g., turning on radio, playing mp3s, GPS-ing).

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Evi Might Outdo Siri And Google Search

Image of Evi App taken from Vinh Nguyen's iPhone 4

Image of Evi App taken from Vinh Nguyen's iPhone 4

I couldn’t yet upgrade to iPhone 4S from my iPhone 4, therefore I had not a chance to experience Siri.  Luckily, I found an article in regarding to how Apple would pull Evi off its App Store by TechCrunch, because Apple did not like how Evi could do similar things to Siri and do them well.  I went to the App Store immediately to see if Evi was gone from App Store yet, but to the sigh of my relief it was there still.  I purchased Evi for $0.99.  I tested out Evi and it was certainly a little nice app for $0.99.

People have been reporting how Evi’s true knowledge search engine may make Siri looks dumb.  So, I tested it out, and I’ve found Evi’s server to be super busy as it seemed to tell me that it had gotten trouble from getting a response from its servers.  Nonetheless, as long I tried again or few more times with the same questions, Evi eventually got it right by spitting out correct answers.  Of course, Evi could not hook me up directly to iPhone 4’s applications and performed tasks, but I think Evi could be a contender for Siri and Google!

Yes, this sort of apps might make Google’s search engine goes the way of the dinosaurs.  So, I think if I’m Google, I better create something that is better than this sort of things (e.g., Evi, Siri, Vlingo).  Get busy Google!

In conclusion, Evi is cheap enough and nice enough, I don’t regret of having it.  Perhaps, I might use Evi for stupid questions such as “Where can I buy a cat?” — even though I know I would never get one and yet I know Evi would give me the answer anyway.  That’s the beauty of Evi.  Evi would point me to several locations that Evi thinks I might find a cat of my liking.  How about this one?  “How do I make the best coffee?”

With Viper SmartStart, One Can Use iPhone 4S’ Siri To Start, Stop, Unlock, Lock, Arm, And Disarm A Car

According to PCWorld‘s article “Siri Can Unlock Your Car, Can’t Drive It Just Yet,” a developer named Brandon Fiquett was able to hack iPhone 4S’ Siri so his car could be automatically started, stopped, opened trunk, locked, armed, unlocked, and disarmed.  Not all cars could use Brandon Fiquett’s Siri hack unless their cars had installed Viper SmartStart.

Viper SmartStart is not a product that could be installed easily, because you have to know your car electrical wiring pretty well.  Viper SmartStart has their own app for various smartphones, but you can’t use voice to command Viper SmartStart to command your car.  Brandon Fiquett is smart enough to let Siri takes over the function of Viper SmartStart’s app.

Check out the video right after the break to see Siri in action in regarding to how a car owner can tell Siri to tell the car to do things.

Source:  http://www.pcworld.com/article/244858/siri_can_unlock
_your_car_cant_drive_it_just_yet.html#tk.rss_news

Kinect For Windows Hardware Will Be Different Than Kinect For Xbox 360, Allowing Users To Use At Closer Range, As Close As 50 Centimeters

Kinect sensor as shown at the 2010 Electronic ...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not a surprise to see Microsoft announces that it will release Kinect for Windows in early 2012, but it’s a surprise to hear that Kinect for Windows will come with newer hardware and firmware.  According to LATimes’ article “Kinect is coming to Windows, but are TVs next?” — Unlike Kinect for Xbox 360, Kinect for Windows users will be able to use Kinect at close range (i.e., as close as 50 centimeters).  So, it seems Kinect for Windows is more flexible than Kinect for Xbox 360, because many computer users do actually stay nearer to their monitors.  Kinect for Windows will work with Windows 7 and Windows 8.

I think Kinect for Windows is great, but it might not be a must have!  Perhaps, I might be shortsighted on this matter, but I think Windows users who stay only inches away from their monitors might not think that it’s a good idea to wave their hands around to communicate with Kinect.  The plus side though that Kinect can recognize voices, therefore it might still be a good idea to use Kinect at close range through the use of Kinect voice recognition.  This makes me so wish to see Microsoft comes out something similar to Apple’s Siri and couples such technology with Kinect or builds it into Kinect so users like us can finally have a personal assistant while using our Windows.

Source:  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/11/kinect-for-windows-and-soon-tvs.html