Sophisticated Voice Control Coming To Ultrabooks™ in 2013

We’ve all probably played around with the voice controls on our computers at one time or the other, and we’ve certainly used our voices to tell our machines a thing or two when they weren’t working up to our standards (I can’t be the only one who’s done that, right?). However, with the release of the new Nuance Dragon Assistant Beta voice recognition software coming to the Ultrabook™ in by the 2012 holiday season, we’ll be able to literally control our computer’s functions merely by saying a command. Add that to the Ultrabook’ s touch-enabled controls, Windows 8 touch capabilities, and tablet-like sensors, and you’ve got a device that is truly futuristic.

Dragon Assistant Beta

Nuance’s Dragon Assistant Beta is voice recognition software that will actually enable us to have direct interaction with our Ultrabooks based merely on our voices. This innovative feature will give users the opportunity to use voice commands to post on social networks, go shopping, play our favorite music, or search the Web for something, like directions to a friend’s house.  In other words, this isn’t your mom’s voice dictation software; this is a full-bodied virtual assistant that you can delegate common Web-based tasks to.

If you’ve picked up a new iPhone or used Google Voice, you’ll notice that this technology is reminiscent of both of these features. For examples, users can utilize Siri to do all sorts of hands-free tasks; schedule something on your to-do list, figure out the location of the nearest coffee shop, call a cab, or play that one song you’ve been thinking of.

However, while there are similarities between Dragon Assistant and Siri, notably just the basic mechanics of how it works, the back end of these voice recognition services is recognizably different. Apple’s Siri runs on the cloud, and Nuance’s Dragon Assistant will run natively on the Ultrabook platform. With the newest Haswell core processors revving up the Ultrabooks to nearly twice the computing power they offer today, we should expect a huge difference in how our voice recognition software behaves.

Dragon Assistant also utilizes Nuance’s core voice technology and natural language understanding to make the entire process as easy and as intuitive as possible. All you have to do to activate the software is simply say “Hello, Dragon” and you’re off and running. Dragon Assistant also offers shortcuts to some of the more popular content providers, for example, if you want to find your favorite Barry Manilow video on YouTube, you would say “Search YouTube for Copacabana”. When you’re done using the software, you just tell Dragon Assistant to “go to sleep” and the application stops listening for your voice commands.

IDF Debut 

video, courtesy networkworld

At IDF 2012 in San Francisco, we got to see Nuance Dragon Assistant Beta demonstrated with an Ultrabook firsthand. The demonstration included a command to show pictures from the city from Google, an Amazon search for a great pair of sunglasses, a request to play a favorite song, and an update for Twitter. From the demonstration, we see that Dragon is very responsive, coming on instantly whenever the demonstrator spoke the words “Hello Dragon”, even correcting improper grammar and deducing a somewhat complicated voice command when locating a Hindi song.

Intel Chief Product Officer Dadi Perlmutter reported that Dragon will be able to interpret multiple accents and languages within a year’s implementation. According to Perlmutter, the first Ultrabook to ship with this voice recognition software will be the Dell® XPS13.

Developers and Dragon Assistant Beta

Right along with the launch of Dragon Assistant voice recognition software for Ultrabooks comes the simultaneous launch of Perceptual Computing SDK 2013 Beta.  This release will enable developers to add all sorts of great options that will contribute to completely innovative applications for the Ultrabook and PCs. This kit supports not only speech recognition, but also close-range tracking, facial analysis, and 2D/3D object tracking. Developers can use this to integrate Dragon Assistant Beta’s voice recognition technology into their own apps, creating ever richer experiences for consumers.

We’ve got touch, now we’ve got voice…what’s next?

Looking at all the upcoming releases coming to our favorite Ultrabooks in the next few months, it’s difficult to not get really excited about what’s in store. Both touch and voice are innovative features that will only serve to enhance end users’ experiences, and with the concurrent release of the new Perceptual Computing SDK 2013 Beta, developers will have a chance to really roll up their sleeves and create some fantastic new apps to take advantage of both. 

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