Alternatively referred to as speech recognition, voice recognition is a computer software program or hardware device with the ability to decode the human voice. Voice recognition is commonly used to operate a device, perform commands, or write without having to use a keyboard, mouse, or press any buttons. Today, this is done on a computer with ASR (automatic speech recognition) software programs. Many ASR programs require the user to “train” the ASR program to recognize their voice so that it can more accurately convert the speech to text. For example, you could say “open Internet” and the computer would open the Internet browser.
The first ASR device was used in 1952 and recognized single digits spoken by a user (it was not computer driven). Today, ASR programs are used in many industries, including healthcare, military (e.g., F-16 fighter jets), telecommunications, and personal computing (i.e. hands-free computing).
What does voice recognition require?
For voice recognition to work, you must have a computer with a sound card and either a microphone or a headset. Other devices like smart phones have all of the necessary hardware built into the device. Also, the software you use needs voice recognition support, or if you want to use voice recognition everywhere, you need a program like Nuance Naturally Speaking to be installed.
If you are using Microsoft Windows Vista, 7, 8, or 10, you can also use the included Windows Speech Recognition program.
Examples of where you might have used voice recognition
As voice recognition improves, it is being implemented in more places and its very likely you have already used it. Below are some examples of where you might encounter voice recognition.
- Automated phone systems: Many companies today use phone systems that help direct the caller to the correct department. If you have ever been asked something like “Say or press number 2 for support” and you say “two,” you used voice recognition.
- Google Voice: Google voice is a service that allows you to search and ask questions on your computer, tablet, and phone.
- Digital assistant: Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri, and Google Assistant use voice recognition to interact with digital assistants that helps answer questions.
- Car Bluetooth: For cars with Bluetooth or Handsfree phone pairing, you can use voice recognition to make commands, such as “call my wife” to make calls without taking your eyes off the road.
Types of voice recognition systems
Automatic speech recognition is one example of voice recognition. Below are other examples of voice recognition systems.
(i) Speaker dependent system
The voice recognition requires training before it can be used, which requires you to read a series of words and phrases.
(ii) Speaker independent system
The voice recognition software recognizes most users’ voices with no training.
(iii) Discrete speech recognition
The user must pause between each word so that the speech recognition can identify each separate word.
(iv) Continuous speech recognition – The voice recognition can understand a normal rate of speaking.
(v) NATURAL language – The speech recognition not only can understand the voice, but can also return answers to questions or other queries that are being asked.
Response Devices is a computer interface which responds to voice commands, instead of responding to inputs from a mouse or a keystroke.
It is a type of speech synthesis where sentences are organized by concatenating pre-recorded words saved in a database. Contrary to a text-to-speech (TTS) system, a voice response system functions using limited vocabulary in scenarios where the sentences or phrases formed adhere to a strict predetermined sequence.
Response device is ideal for visually impaired or other physically impaired persons. Since these people cannot access a normal mouse or keyboard, being able to instruct a computer how to proceed can be a revelation for them. Another important use is record keeping.
Also, with the help of some software protocols, data entry can be made voice-activated. This allows users to input data without using their hands. A good number of people are interacting with response device systems each day, more than they notice.
Whenever callers dial a financial institution or a travel agency or a catalog company, the first thing they hear is an electronic voice asking a question and prompting for an answer. Depending on what the callers affirm, their requests are converted by the central computer into specific actions.
In certain scenarios, a complete telephonic experience may occur via voice response. One downside of this type of experience is that it does not permit responses outside the parameters programmed in the software. If the callers ask a question that is outside the approved list, then they may not receive a response that they are looking for.
Financial institutions often use response device systems to restrict undesired access to accounts or information. Response device systems in these financial institutions are programmed to respond only to specific voice patterns and passwords.
Response device systems have evolved in such a way that users can make use of their voices to activate and operate software applications. Some applications are presently available for response device systems to operate standard household activities, such as turning lights and fans on and off or closing and opening a garage door.