Friday, January 22, 2016

Training your digital assistant

Despite reading articles like http://www.wired.com/2015/09/voice-interface-ios/, every time I use a digital assistant application to interact with my device, I'm reminded of how limited they really are. Still useful for a certain set of commands (notes, reminders, factual questions, etc.), but not even close to the type of "conversational computing" imagined in videos like http://blog.ibmjstart.net/2016/01/07/why-being-able-to-talk-to-your-computer-may-change-your-life/

So what I'm asking for is much simpler; just let me easily program a set of voice commands for my own device. Or, more precisely, let me teach my digital assistant how to interpret my words over time. When you search google about training a digital assistant like Siri or Cortana, all the information seems to be about training the voice recognition.  But thats only a small part of the problem.  Why isn't it easier to create simple verbal commands to trigger a specific action on your device?

For example, if there is an app I use a lot, I should be able to set a verbal launch command (without buying a 3rd party app launcher).  I should be able to record "macros" of events on the phone and then assign a verbal command to replay that exact set of events (e.g. open an app, click a button in the app, swipe to the second tab/screen of it).

Basically, I think the voice recognition should evolve with me to understand the types of things I'm likely to ask for. If it misinterprets what I'm asking for, I should be able to give it a simple piece of negative feedback so that it can try a different interpretation in the future. Or better yet, it could learn to measure its success based on my implicit feedback (if I redo a very similar command, I'm probably looking for a different result).

I really do hope that WIRED article is right and that smarter digital assistants are right around the corner, but I wouldn't hold my breath. If they do arrive, we'll just have to solve that silly little problem of getting people more comfortable with talking to their devices.
Post a Comment