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Another Microsoft Demo Gone Wrong

July 29th, 2006

So, Microsoft was trying to to show off one of Vista’s cool new features, speech recognition, by having one of their people give a demo.

DEMO GUY: “Dear mom, comma.”

VISTA: “Dear Aunt,”

DEMO GUY: “Fix aunt.”

VISTA: “let’s set”

DEMO GUY: “Delete that. Delete that.”

VISTA: “so”

DEMO GUY: “Delete that. I think it’s picking up a little, I can hear… Delete–select all.”

VISTA: “double the killer delete select all”

At this point, the computer screen reads: “Dear Aunt, so let’s set double the killer delete select all” as the audience has a good laugh.

DEMO GUY: (as he manually selects all the typed text and deletes it) “OK, I’m glad you’re enjoying this.”

Microsoft complained that the software was picking up ambient noise, but that’s not much of an excuse–ambient noise is going to be present in most real-life applications. The story and a video (with a huge, distracting watermark on it) are here Update: here’s a clean version of the video.

This is simply yet another example of Windows getting stuff long after Apple has. Apple has had speech recognition for many years, and Vista’s looks like nothing really new. I sometimes demo the Mac’s speech recognition (though the Mac doesn’t have dictation, it does allow you to give speech commands) for my Computer classes, and sometimes I have the same problem this guy had; it’s a matter of how much background noise is getting to the mic. Though this demo guy must have been wearing a mic headset, ideal for this kind of application, whereas I was speaking into the built-in mic on my Powerbook. So really, I’m not impressed by this. Personal computer speech recognition still has a long way to go before it is really feasible for most users.

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  1. July 30th, 2006 at 01:59 | #1

    Yeah it generally takes Microsoft quite a while to progress from the “hey, that’s a cool idea – let’s copy it!” stage to achieving something truly useful. There’s a third party Windows app called Dragon Naturally Speaking that handles speech-to-text fairly well. I’ve been using it in both English and JP and I’m pretty impressed. Feels kinda embarassing talking to my comp sometimes, though.

  2. ykw
    July 30th, 2006 at 02:44 | #2

    I think the guy doing the demo messed up. He should know what is going to effect the sr, and stay away from situations that are not going to work.

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