What is voice recognition? The basics.

What is voice recognition? The basics.

Voice recognition is defined as the ability of a computer program or machine to understand and carry out spoken commands or to receive and interpret diction. Voice recognition will be enabled automatically after a user speaks to a given device with voice recognition capabilities. Voice recognition software allows users to perform any number of hands free functions such as making phone calls, setting reminders, setting up a GPS navigation system or setting an alarm for work. Common voice recognition software options on the market today in Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

There are many different types of voice recognition software options available to consumers. These include but are not limited to:

  • Automatic speech recognition – these systems used AI technology to automatically detect what the speaker is saying.
  • Speaker dependent system – these systems require users to complete voice recognition training before use, typically in the form of a series of words and phrases that must be read aloud.
  • Speaker independent system – these programs will identify a user’s voice without the need for any training.
  • Discrete speech recognition – these systems require that a user pause before speaking each word so that the speech recognition software can accurately identify each word
  • Continuous speech recognition – These systems can recognize voices at a normal conversational level of speaking.
  • Natural language systems – these systems can not only distinguish between voices but can answer questions and queries as well.

How does voice recognition work?

In order to function properly, voice recognition software running on computers requires that the analog audio be converted into digital signals, a process known as analog-to-digital conversion. In order for a computer to accurately decipher a signal, it must have a digital database of vocabulary, words, and syllables, as well as an expeditious for comparing this data to the digital signals. These speech patterns are stored onto the hard drive of a computer and loaded into memory whenever the voice recognition software is run. Moreover, a comparator then checks these stored patterns against the output of the A/D converter, an action known as pattern recognition.

The size and range of a voice recognition’s effective vocabulary will be dependent upon the random access memory capacity of the computer the software is being run on. For instance, a voice recognition program will run significantly faster if the entire vocabulary can be loaded into RAM. Comparatively, searching the hard drive for some of the word matches is a more tedious and time consuming process. Furthermore, processing speed plays a significant role, as this will affect how quickly a computer can search for these RAM matches.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of voice recognition software?

The primary advantage of voice recognition software is the convenience that it can provide consumers. For example, with the help of an AI virtual assistant like Siri, a user could drive their car, make a phone call, and activate the smart alarm at their house all at the same time. While the original voice recognition systems released with computers during the 1970s could only pick up around a thousand words, current software options can pick up virtually any English word or phrase imaginable. This is done by using sophisticated and nuanced algorithms that quickly transform spoken words into written text.

On the other hand, there are some limitations to voice recognition software. While software offerings and features are constantly evolving and improving, all of these systems will undoubtedly be prone to error. For example, many popular voice recognition programs will struggle to differentiate between similar sounding words such as hear and here. Additionally, background noise can obviously produce false input and cause confusion. As such, voice recognition software must still be used in a quiet and undisturbed environment, limiting some of its applications further.

What are the differences between voice recognition and speech recognition?

While the difference between voice recognition and speech recognition may seem minute and arbitrary at first glance, they are in fact two distinctly different functions within a computer program or verbal assistance system. To put it simply, voice recognition is looking to pick the unique voice of the speaker, while speech recognition aims to pick up the specific words and diction that a person uses when speaking. Voice recognition allows for security features such as voice biometrics to be enabled. Conversely, speech recognition software allows for accurate commands and automatic transcription. As such, voice and speech recognition respectively are used in two completely different contexts.

Voice recognition software listens to your voice in real time and responds instantly. However, this is at the cost of both accuracy and functionality, as these features are usually limited to speaking about the task at hand. Alternatively, speech recognition is most often used in the context of audio transcription. The words and phrases contained in such transcriptions will almost always be more complicated and complex than the speech given to voice recognition software. The decision on which feature to use will depend upon the specific needs of the consumer using the particular software or program at hand.