Are you listening? Voice input is taking off.

“voice is a big deal because voice input now works in a way that it did not until very recently. The advances in machine learning in the past couple of years mean (to simplify hugely) that computers are getting much better at recognizing what people are saying.”

When Apple introduced Siri in October 2011, very few people would have thought that intelligent voice recognition would be one of the biggest tech innovations in the coming years. Today not only Siri tries to listen to you, she is accompanied by her friends Alexa (Amazon), Assistant (Google), Cortana (Microsoft) and Bixby (Samsung). They all are listening and try to understand your commands.

All these tools basically replace manual and touch input. Some even are embedded in devices without screens. What interests me is what it can do for museum guides. What if we could control a museum guide by speech instead of touch and use it to trigger stories, make recommendations or show us the way? Not only is speech control very natural, it also allows us to keep our eyes up, on the things around us, rather than down at the screen.

It might be a little disturbing. And it needs to work flawlessly. And the device must understand a lot of languages and dialects. But when it does, it could open up a completely new museum experience: your very own, personal, voice-assisted cyberguide.

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