Why Isn’t Everything Voice-Activated?

In one of the very first posts I ever wrote about my experiences as a dad, I talked about the Kinect/Xbox interactivity and how it’s good, but could be better. I still have the same problems I had before with the crappy Netflix motion stuff. You still don’t have access to your actual queue and flipping through them is clunky at best. But I’m still pretty much in love with the voice command stuff. I use my Netflix quite a bit, though not nearly as much as I did before Lucy came into our lives.

The ability to just say “Netlflix Pause” or “Netflix Stop” and have it actually do that exact thing is amazing. It totally reminds me of the future I saw in sci-fi cartoons and movies as a kid and still marvel that this is real life. The problem, though, is that not everything in my life is voice activated. I want to tell the sink to start or the bath to run or even the Xbox to turn off. Instead, I’ve got to use my hands. I’m not saying this out of laziness, but thanks to a lack of spare hands. Though, to be fair, I’d probably still use these things after Lucy grows up because it’s just too damn cool!

I would also like for my laptop to have better voice-activated commands. I’ve got a MacBook from a year or two back and overall it’s a great little workhorse computer that’s put up with me well. The other day I tried setting up the voice commands and it was just baffling. I don’t need commands for every single thing the computer can do, just the things I need. “iTunes Pause,” “Photoshop Shrink Image Size,” that kind of stuff. I had it running for about an hour which wasn’t really enough time, but it just wasn’t working out for me so I turned it off. Maybe someday it’ll work better.

It must be difficult creating voice recognition technology and programs, but aside from teleportation and flying cars, I think really solid voice recognition software is the technological advancement I most want to see. In addition to all this “talking to my appliances” thing, I’d also like a talk-and-type program that really nails it. I know there’s a few for Macs, but they’re expensive and I don’t want to drop that kind of coin without having some hands on (or rather off) experience with them. In the meantime, would it kill TV makers to allow me to turn the tube on and off just by talking? Methinks not.


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