Friday, January 22, 2010

Make It So

I spoke with a Microsoft executive last year about the inaccessible nature of Speech Recognition in Windows Vista. I was excited by the prospects presented by Microsoft – “You can dictate documents and emails in mainstream applications use voice commands to start and switch between applications, control the operating system, and even fill out forms on the Web.”

I expected it to work. Seemed like a natural for people with impaired vision. Unfortunately, it was not up to the task, and my friend at Microsoft told me that I was expecting “Star Trek Technology” and they were not quite there yet.

All I could think of were the words used by Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek, when commanding his crew to execute an order --- “Make it so!”
I know, we are not on the Starship Enterprise, but it is 2010 and there are a few things that cannot wait for the next generation:

Speech Recognition is still at the top of my list. I want an easy to access program built right into my computer. We can, after all, get movie tickets, conduct banking transactions, and pay our bills, at this point, just by speaking into the phone. Ford put Sync in cars to dial the phone or find our favorite music. It’s high time our computer can do the same.

The Kindle should make those menus talk!
In order to enjoy the text-to-speech feature, I must find the publication I want to read, but the print is not big enough, so I need it to speak. I can live with the Authors Guild restrictions, but I cannot use a Kindle without spoken menus.

Mobile phones should make their menus talk too! Not such a leap, if Apple could make it happen on a touch screen iPhone, it’s time to make it a build in option in all phones.

Give me access to the GPS that is apparently in mobile phones, at the touch of a button, I want to hear my exact location: You are on the northeast corner of Seventh Avenue at 24th Street.

The DVR (Digital Video Recorder) needs a voice as well. I want to DVR my favorite programs, like everyone else. Then again, will Web TV make the DVR mute?

I want to hear from the bar code scanners, too, in the grocery store, the drug store, the department store. It should just be standard…like the talking ATM.

Make it so.