“Ok, computer”: Google voice control for Chrome and a “web speech” API

16 Jan, 2013

Voice control on dedicated phone apps like Siri is becoming mainstream, but Google has plans to teach us to talk to our PC browser too. A blog post by Google speech specialist Glen Shires on the Google Chrome blog suggest that with the release of the Chrome 25 beta with voice control, we should very soon be able to:

  • dictate documents and e-mails,
  • control game characters with your voice
  • (or “have a freestyle rap battle”, he says)

Google included a Web Speech API for developers, to encourage them to let their imagination roam free to think of new applications for voice control for browsers. There’s already a demonstration page up where you can dictate an e-mail (you’ll have to install Google Chrome 25 beta first).

Here’s video of the demo:

Dictating e-mails might be fun, although I’m not sure – it will depend on how easy it is to delete and rewrite things. But the most frustrating aspects of using keyboards an mouse for me aren’t so much typing, but rather opening and closing folders, dragging and dropping files, saving, renaming files. All the “maintenance” work that slows you down, basically.

To become really useful, this technology would need to combine aspects of natural speech search and the functionalities of services like IFFT, which allow users to automate tedious and time consuming tasks like posting new blog entries to Twitter and Facebook.

I would love to be able to tell my browser: “upload this image into the post I’m writing about Google and include the photographer credits”. Let me know in the comments how long I’ll have to wait for that!

via Google Chrome Blog: Hello Browser. Photo: Abelmon007, Flickr

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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