February 26, 2008
In 5 years we will search more with voice than typing
People will increasingly interact with computers using speech or touch screens rather than keyboards, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said.“It’s one of the big bets we’re making,” he said during the final stop of a farewell tour before he withdraws from the company’s daily operations in July.
In five years, Microsoft expects more Internet searches to be done through speech than through typing on a keyboard, Gates told about 1,200 students and faculty members Thursday at Carnegie Mellon University.
David conjectures, as do I, that when people speak their searches they are more likely to use natural language than to use keywordese, and that this could change the game in search.
I personally can envision Microsoft trying to integrate speech based data entry as closely as possible with our normal style of speaking. Perhaps the phrase “Where can I buy a hd tv?” would be more natural for searchers when you take away the limitations of the keyboard.Wide spread speech based data entry will almost certainly impact the way Microsoft and subsequently all other search engines deal with search queries.
It’s interesting to see Bill Gates predicting this to happen within 5 years. In the blink of an eye, an entire industry is going to change dramatically.
While on the topic of predictions about voice and language, here’s one of my predictions that I have been meaning to write up:
Within 8 years from now (2016), every category of consumer electronics will have some linguistic interface as a standard feature.
By “linguistic interface”, I mean voice interactions or text-based interaction that is linguage-based. Not that these devices won’t still have nonlinguistic interfaces too (e.g. there will still be buttons, most likely). And by “every category”, I mean you will not find a category of consumer electronics that does not have some product in that category with that feature.
For example, users will expect to be able to talk to cameras, tvs, stereos, ipods, phones, watches, microwave ovens, refrigerators, cars, etc. There will still be some cameras that aren’t language-enabled, but every category will have some products that are.
As my friends Cliff Nass and Scott Brave write in their book, Voice Activated, when people interact with devices using voice, it also invokes the rest of their social apparatus. You can’t hear a voice without ascribing some kind of personality, gender, race, social status, etc to the source of the voice. So in addition to expecting linguistic capability, we’re also going to start expecting personality within the next decade.
I’ll stop here before I get carried away to the singularity…
Posted by barney at February 26, 2008 8:30 pm
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