How speech-to-text/voice recognition is making an impact on IoT development

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It is amazing how technology has changed the world since the dawn of the new millennium. We have progressed from the stone age and have reached the digital age. The road from the ’World Wide Web’ and in the 20th century, to the current unrestricted internet access has been amazingly quick. Technology has reached an extent where every smart gadget has its own unique identification or UID’s. Each activity on the internet can be monitored with ease simply by using the special identifiers.

google-home-product-photos-28Currently, many people can easily communicate with people across vast distances using a smart gadget, and this is a phenomenal thing. What seemed like sorcery two centuries ago, has become a daily routine simply to pass idle time. Let alone people, did you know that even the smart devices we use tend to communicate with each other? A system of interconnected devices, whether mechanical or digital machines, can transfer data over the network without any human intervention is in place. This is called the ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT.  Physical devices can be connected with plugins which will allow them to transfer data amongst themselves. These plugins can also be used to relay commands and controls to the machines across distances by using WiFi and infrared signals.

Voice Recognition For Internet of Things

Hollywood movies have set the trend for tech companies to develop and upgrade voice-activated systems. Sci-Fi and superhero movies have spiked people’s imagination with an array of voice-driven technology. Tech giants and developers have taken it upon themselves to make these technologies a reality. Nowadays, applications and software are programmed with artificial intelligence and machine learning to recognize voice commands. Such applications analyze the commands and predict future outcomes and user behavior.

Apps like Siri and Alice have set a new benchmark after successfully integrating voice recognition and artificial intelligence. Consumers are hooked to the voice command features. This technology makes it extremely easy for users. All one has to do is speak to the devices for performing a series of instructions. Statistics show that more than 50% of the households in the United States use voice-activated commands for accessing online content. The Internet of Things and Voice Recognition has revolutionized business focus and consumer expectations.

Voice commands have changed the way many of the business sectors operate. The changes are significant and more upgrades are still being worked on. 

Voice IoT Applications

Below is a list of business sectors which has changed with the use of voice recognition.

Home automation

The Internet of Things has expanded beyond smart gadgets. There is also a system in place, whereby physical and mechanical devices can be embedded with electronic devices. These devices include sensors and actuators. Sensors and actuators recognize digital signals and convert them into motion. This is the core design of voice-operated devices. These plugins also make it possible to access a physical device online. It is possible to communicate with these physical devices online and relay commands over the internet with the help of WiFI signals.

One of the raging trends in the tech world today is Home Automation. The demand for smart homes has risen sky high. Tech companies are working out low-cost solutions that would enable users to control their home appliances simply by talking to them. It could be a possibility where you can turn on the television simply by speaking out. Cooking can be revolutionized with the help of voice-activated Microwave Owens. Home automation is one of the most emerging sectors of the 21st century. Many technology companies are working hard to incorporate new and improved voice commands with the Internet of Things.

Automobiles

The Automobile sector has also started adopting new technologies to make their cars even more fascinating and appealing. Even the thought of owning a car you can talk to would drive an auto enthusiast crazy. Many of the car manufacturing companies have integrated in-vehicle communications systems and a voice recognition software. This makes it easy for the users to control all the electronic functions in the car with the help of voice-enabled instructions. This technology is still in the nascent stage and there is a tremendous scope for growth. The voice recognition software is programmed elaborately to comprehend a diverse set of commands. Developers are working hard to increase the number of commands that the car would understand. Currently is possible to place outbound calls and answer incoming calls with the use of voice recognition. Other electronic commands include managing the air conditioning and the temperature within the car. It is also possible to manage music playlists while driving using voice commands. Voice recognition has in a way changed the user experience for car fanatics.

Healthcare

Healthcare sector has revolutionized with modern medicines and treatment procedures. Now, hospitals and clinics are turning towards newly designed innovative applications for assistance. Caregivers have also started to increase their dependency on modern technology, not only with the use of new machines and medicines but also by incorporating this technology into their daily operations. Many doctors use the text to speech feature very often. The speech to text feature enables the doctors and physicians to make a note of the most of the medical records without doing much paperwork. Recording details and specifics in a device is less time consuming than writing down all the records of the patient in voluminous files. Information about the medical condition of the patient, diagnosis, treatment procedures and even recovery can be easily recorded with the use of speech to text features. This has a significant impact on the healthcare services since it saves a lot of time with the paperwork. It is also possible to save the audio file as the draft or raw copy and use the converted text file for reference purposes. Most of this information can be easily stored online and can be accessed from any smart devices. Managing multiple records also becomes easy.

Entertainment

The landscape of home entertainment has also changed in the last few years. We have seen the launches of flat screen televisions and home theatre systems. The newly launched versions also sport voice commands features. Many prominent companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple are exploring the utility of voice commands to improve the benchmarks in the entertainment industry. For instances, entertainment products like Amazon FireTV and Amazon Dash have inbuilt voice-activated features. There is also a voice view feature in these products, which can talk back to the user. Typically it can be used to describe the options that the user has selected. Other products also keep a track of user habits and monitor the general usage of the user. There are some instances where the device also offers the user suggestions based on the previously recorded user preferences.

The Internet

This is definitely the place where voice recognition has created a lot of waves. The internet is slowly helping users around the globe to keep pace with the voice recognition technology. Many of the search engines have enabled voice commands. It is easy to search the internet for data by using applications like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. Some experts are of opinion that by the year 2020, most of the users will be using voice searches on the internet instead of the traditional method. Some developers are working to create authentication modules that use voice recognition. This idea solely thrives on each individual having a separate and unique voice. This way many of the users can use their voice as a mode of authenticating access to secured information.

Troubleshooting solutions

Almost all products and brand boast of having a customer service hotline. These hotlines are generally linked to IVR or Interactive Voice Responses. The IVR acts as the first level of customer support before transferring calls to the customer service agent. The IVR talks the customer through various options. The customer merely has to follow instructions for getting a resolution to their queries. This drastically reduces human intervention. The IVR is also useful for diverting and routing calls based on user inputs. New versions of IVR are being developed for different native languages. This would allow the consumer to use native languages as voice inputs thereby reaching out to a wider, non-English speaking audience.

Challenges Faced During IoT Development For Voice Recognition

Voice recognition has made serious impacts on the development of the Internet of Things. But it is still at a very adolescent stage. There are plentiful avenues by which voice recognition can be developed to perform extraordinary feats. Right now, voice recognition is used to perform simple and menial tasks. But developers are working hard to change this. Voice recognition has definitely made a lot of tasks easier. Even the consumer expectations for voice recognition devices have skyrocketed. But the IoT development still faces many challenges to incorporate voice commands in the day to day life. Some of the challenges faced by developers are:

  1. Many of the voice recognition features are programmed into standard commands. These commands use simple languages and are used to perform very basic tasks. For instance, while driving a car it is possible to make a phone call simply by mentioning the name of the person. It is also possible to answer a call by voice. But it is not useful when you need to call a number that is not saved in the address book. Also at times, the voice recognition does make mistakes. This is common when there are multiple users speaking to the software. It does not take into account any change in tone or the pitch of the user.
  2. The voice commands are highly effective only in places where there are very fewer distractions. It can be very useful in small rooms, offices, conference rooms and meeting rooms. This spaces are relatively small and confined which makes the audio output very clear. However, the voice recognition is not too efficient in open spaces. In open spaces, the voice tends to get distorted. Many of the times the software does not recognize commands or it tends to simply confuse the commands. The same can be said if the input devices are placed away from the user. Typically, voice recognition uses a microphone or similar input devices to relay commands. The voice command output depends on how close the microphone is held by the user. If the microphone is kept far away from the user, then the command might not be read properly by the software. Users would also have to invest in highly expensive gadgets like noise cancellation microphones. This might improve the result of voice commands, but is it worth the extra dollar spent?
  3. Voice commands are still restricted to the imagination of the developers. In other words, the scope of the Internet of Things is infinitely large, but it is still restricted to the developer’s imagination. Many developers are still coming out with new and innovative solutions to merge voice and IoT, there is still a long way to go.
  4. The text to speech feature is a boon for many. It does reduce the number of handwritten records and makes its easier to document things online. But, the accuracy rate of text to speech conversion is alarming. User input is consistently needed to rectify errors picked up by the software. Quite often than not, the software is not able to comprehend the context in which the words are spoken. These are errors caused because of misinterpretation which is a fundamental issue.
  5. Voice recognition can be expensive at times. It might seem as if it makes the job easier. But if the recognition is not too efficient and still needs human intervention to rectify mistakes. This makes it counterproductive.

These bottlenecks should not be viewed as shortcomings of voice recognition feature. These hitches will be eradicated over time. The voice recognition and the Internet of Things is an expanding space and these limitations will definitely become the stepping stones for the better technology of tomorrow.