Voice recognition has a long way to go still

pexels-photo-864994.jpegIf you want a guaranteed, slam dunk way to get rich, I’ve got the solution: Perfect voice recognition.

Voice recognition is in many of our products today, and while it’s amazing when you look at it from the perspective of a person who was born long before the internet was even a dream, it’s still far from there, yet.

I had an appointment on Friday with my endocrinologist (To those wondering, everything is now going great) and he uses his voice recognition software during our appointment to dictate to his computer. I was the first patient on Friday and he was having difficulty with it and was noticeably upset.

He’d say one thing — very clearly and slowly, I might add — and it heard another. He kept at it, though, and he eventually got what he wanted. Were it me, I would have just typed what I was trying to say.

On Saturday, I had a golf lesson and was in my car driving home. I wanted to call my wife, Betsy, to see if she wanted to go to lunch. I hit the appropriate button on my steering wheel and said, again clearly, “Call Betsy Iole, mobile.” The car dutifully repeated, “Call Pat Healy, mobile.” It did that twice and I just gave up.

I already have an Amazon Echo and a Google Home in the house, and on Friday, I bought the Apple HomePod. I’ll do a review later, but the sound on the HomePod is great. I’d already been warned it couldn’t perform as many tasks as either the Echo or the Home, but I know Apple tends to add these features and I wasn’t that concerned.

I did, though, want it to recognize my voice. On Saturday, the first full day I had it, it batted about 95 percent. Good, but not acceptable. Imagine if you’re in a restaurant and you say you want a grilled chicken breast with vegetables and they bring you a rare steak with French fries. You wouldn’t accept that, and neither should we accept less-than-stellar voice recognition.

It’s particularly bad in cars, particularly in the Toyota and Lexus I drive. I would say it’s not even 95 percent. It’s more like 75 percent. I did the opening training in my Toyota multiple times, and it would say it understood, only to then have it misunderstand me on my first request.

This obviously isn’t easy, but it if ever were perfected, someone will make themselves very wealthy. Until then, I can do without saying, “Alexa, turn on The Golf Channel,” and will continue to just push 218 on my remote instead.

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