02 June 2011

"I'm sorry, Dave. I"m afraid I can't do that."

Excerpts from a post at AOL Autos:
Despite strides in voice-activated technology, carmakers acknowledge that women have a tougher time using speech-recognition technology than men... Women's voices can be tricky for the technology to decipher, especially when using navigation, causing many female drivers to give up trying. Drivers with foreign accents say it won't work for them. Even drivers with thick regional accents can have trouble...

OnStar spokesman Adam Denison says the General Motors' system has evolved over the past 10 years. Improvements were made first for males, then females, then Midwestern speakers. Finally it was adjusted for Southern speakers and people from New England...

Foreign accents still stump most systems. David Champion, who leads Consumer Reports' auto testing department, often stymies cars with his British accent. His voice isn't even picked up by British car brands, like Land Rover. When he asks it to do something, the car will respond in a British accent, saying, "Sorry?"


  1. Heh. Starting in the 90's I evaluated the abillities of voice activated software for non-typing execs. One Christmas vacation I had my father and my school-teacher sister try the software. Of the three of us, only my sister in her "control the class voice" could make it work. I gave up on the software, it still doesn't recognize my voice in telephone answering systems.

    However, I've been truly amazed at the voice recognition capability of Rosetta Stone. It's truly amazing, and its feedback system is incredible. I've now a Parisienne approved Paris accent!

  2. British isn't foreign.
    The definition of foreign is "not British", isn't it?

  3. @ Anon MkII


  4. They're also difficult when you're sick. I was using the voice recognition on my phone to 'type' for me in IMs when I was bedridden with the flu last year. All kinds of odd things came up, causing lots of laughter on boths ends of the conversation (and extra coughing on mine).

  5. Heck, *I* have a hard time understanding other accents sometimes. Just had issues while talking w/ a Peruvian/Japanese friend on the phone a couple nights ago. Couldn't for the life of me understand the name of a place she was trying to tell me.

    So it's understandable (to me, at least) that software is going to have issues sometimes.


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