Friday, January 22, 2016

Training your digital assistant

Despite reading articles like, 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

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