TV Industry Moving Towards Voice-Recognition in 2012

News | Friday December 9 2011 4:44 PM | Comments (0) Tags: , , , , ,

 is reporting that there’s a big move industry-wide towards voice-recognition interfaces for TVs that will be coming in the next year. The impetus is most likely the rumored
the integrated Television set problem,
to give Apple ‘s rumored Television some real competition. The widely assumed solution that Jobs referred to is
. Voice recognition isn’t new –
– but it does seem to be the missing piece that all of the OEMs have realized.
Whether the rumors are true that Apple is planning to release a TV set by 2013, Siri-like voice recognition is headed for the living room. Microsoft (
) is already there, via its Xbox 360 game console, and Comcast (
),Samsung Electronics (
), LG, and Sharp are working on voice-enabled features for TV sets, set-top boxes, and related products. Mike Thompson, senior vice-president atNuance Communications (
), the world’s largest supplier of voice recognition technology, says “a wave” of device makers will ship products that understand voice commands next year.
Voice commands could be used by all family members to program show recordings, change channels, even access the web – all without the clunky use of a remote control. Microsoft in particular seems to be at an advantage:
Microsoft has the early lead thanks to Kinect, an Xbox peripheral with cameras and motion sensors for hands-free gaming. Kinect also has sensitive microphones. After waking up the system by saying “Xbox,” subscribers to Microsoft’s $60-a-year Xbox LIVE service can search for shows, movies, and games by speaking to Microsoft’s Bing search engine. “You get a lot of claims saying, ‘We’re about to transform TV,’ ” says Ross Honey, general manager of Xbox LIVE entertainment and advertising for Microsoft. “We already have.”
Comcast is also similarly poised to bank on things. They’ve released smartphone and tablet apps to control cable boxes, and 
 claims that they’re looking into adding voice command support right into those apps. Samsung and Sharp are also working on making their own apps.
Nuance, maker of the popular Dragon dictation software suites, is widely regarded as the best speech-recognition engine out there, and that is what Apple has used for Siri as well. It appears that many manufacturers have turned to them to help transform remotes instead of eschew them.
Nuance’s Thompson says TV, DVD, and set-top box makers are all working on models that look more like iPhones, some with touchscreens rather than that gaggle of unused buttons. Some of the prototypes are designed around a single prominent button that activates a microphone, he says. Cost will be a challenge, since such a device would need a microphone and Wi-Fi antenna instead of the infrared sensors now commonly used.
Nuance has estimated that 5% of TVs could be controlled by voice by Christmas 2012. Of course, there are several problems to solve, such as which devices take preference, and how they would distinguish commands from normal conversation. But, there’s hope. SRI International, the company that worked on Siri before spinning it off into a separate company, has been working on solutions. They’ve been working on a project that can discern people’s moods by verbal cues, something that may potentially be used to differentiate commands.
What do you think? Is voice-recognition the way of the future? Would you buy a speech-controlled TV? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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