Aug 24 2014

The Hands Off Approach to Text Entry

The longevity of the QWERTY design is a testament to its effectiveness, but times are changing.

From a pure communication standpoint, typing is incredibly inefficient, even on an input device people have been practicing on for close to 150 years. The fastest talkers can exceed 600 words per minute, while professional typists are lucky to exceed 100.

The easy answer to this predicament is to use a tool such as Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking software. Given advancements in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, voice-recognition and dictation software is becoming incredibly accurate. As Nuance Chief Technology Officer Vlad Sejnoha notes, there exists “the fraction of the user population whose speech is still a challenge for our systems, whether because it’s disfluent or strongly accented, or the environment is too noisy.”

IT futurist Jim Carroll believes voice-recognition software is primed to explode once so-called digital natives reach critical mass in businesses.

“I’m not really comfortable with Siri,” Carroll says. “I don’t think that type of computer interaction is part of my DNA. But for my sons — ages19 and 20 — it’s an entirely different thing. They’ve never known a world without the Internet and have always understood a world that involves constant change in the human-machine interface. As their generation becomes predominant in the workforce and culture, I think we’ll see a significant uptick in voice recognition to almost everything that is a part of our daily lives.”

A Matter of Perception

One particularly buzzy piece of hands-free tech is Intel’s RealSense, a perceptual technology that combines depth-sensing cameras with voice-recognition software (coincidentally Nuance’s Dragon Assistant) to create an entirely new way to interact with and control computers and other devices. With facial-recognition and gesture-control capabilities, RealSense could allow people to use their systems in intuitive ways that keyboards and mice simply cannot reproduce.

Manufacturers are expected to incorporate RealSense into all-in-one devices, ultrabooks and other portables this year. Users soon may learn if this brand of perceptual technology for computing input and control will have an impact on the way everyday business gets done.

John Lamb/ThinkStock

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