cc licensed flickr photo shared by clarksworth

Holy smokes, it is 2010, and despite all of the dreams (the heck with flying cars) we are still typing on keyboards designed to make typing difficult… so aren’t we supposed to be far into the future where we talk to our computers?

Voice recognition and identification software has been on the advance in development, and someday perhaps we will have the Star Trek ability to talk to our computer? While there is no LCARS app as pictured above, there is a fun interface you can poke at with your 20th century mouse Go at it.

Dragon Dictation has been at this game a long time– they’ve just come out with a free iPhone app that I gave a brief spin with tonight.

It is simple enough. You press record and start talking, getting some sound levels as feedback:

And when you click the big ole “DONE”: button, you get the text, which you can edit, as well as send to email as well as SMS (ostensibly you can go directly to services like facebook and twitter).

Lacking anything meaningful thing to say, I decided to try reciting something. Since I had actually gotten nostalgic the other day, and over lunch watched an episide of thre old Star Trek on DVD, the I, Mudd episode featuring the irascible Harry Mudd .

I have a thing for Harry Mudd- I used him as a metaphor somehow in a 2005 TCC keynote presentation.

It is the scene where Mudd and Kirk met down Norman the android with a logic twist:

Kirk: Everything Harry tells you is a lie. Remember that. Everything Harry tells you is a lie.

Harry Mudd: Now, listen to this carefully, Norman. I am lying.

Norman: You say you are…lying, but if everything you say is a lie then you are telling the truth but you cannot tell the truth because everything you say is a lie but you lie, you tell the truth, but you cannot for you lie…illogical! Illogical!

So I did my best to recite these lines (leaving off the cheesy acting that makes Kirk et al so camp), and this is what I got:

Everything Harry tells you why. Remember that everything Harry tells you

what’s new this carefully Normand

You say you are buying that everything you say is alive and you’re telling the truth but you cannot tell the truth because everything you say is the line but you live to tell the truth but you cannot tell for you like a logical illogical

Okay, so it is pretty bad… but then again consider what it was able to do- a free mobile app, that took my likely bad reading voice… and, well it is easy to say it is not quite there yet– if you expect perfect dictation.

I then thought to try another test, to see if it could transcribe the sound from a recorded video. I held up the phone to my computer, but the next few efforts failed (I got a connection failure). The work is being done apparently over the net, and maybe my connection went fluttery.

Given Google’s inroads to voice and what it is rolling into its new Nexus app — is it getting closer to Star Trek, or not?

And what would you do with voice dictation on a mobile? The obvious seems to be capturing that brilliant idea when it pops in your head, which seems so silly and cliche, are the other compelling ideas besides getting out of typing?

Computer, interpret!

UPDATE: The link to a technology expert in Chris Lott’s comment below justifies voice recognition!

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. While I feel much the same way about voice recognition as I do video phones, I was merely posting something I found amusing, a
    memory triggered by your post. Consider the wrist-slapping noted…

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