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In April we explored the global speech recognition market in “Closed Systems, Open Minds” and discussed how big tech firms believe our future involves communicating with devices that communicate back. We concluded that the speech recognition market still has a long way to go before all consumers fully integrate speech recognition into their daily lives.
Since then we have seen a more serious stride in the market with Google and Apple aiming to create a more well-rounded experience for their end users. Google have recently patented a voice search technology which allows users accents to determine the results that appear. The patent would allow for Google to assess users’ accents and predict their preferences for restaurants, places, and movies based on the way they speak.
Google provides this example to lay out exactly how this would work: "If English-language speakers with a French-language accent show a preference for a particular result for the query terms 'restaurants in Scranton' than do English-language speakers with a Russian-language accent, a search engine will be more likely to select that particular result for another user who provides a voice query in the English language with a French-language accent. The preference for that particular search result would not be reflected in search results that are generated for other users that do not have that particular accent."
Though it may be baffling for some and offensive for others, its proposal for accent influenced search results is a push for tailored search results from the tech giant. It is uncertain whether Google will deploy the software and it should be noted that tech companies tend to patent new technology often but only a small proportion are actually used. The proposal is not based on sociolinguistics but rather on algorithms and data that could lead to reinforcing prejudice and social stereotypes.
Quartz: The patent says that the results would use data from users with the same accent who have written reviews or shown interest in particular products or places online.
Similarly, Apple are focusing on their latest iOS software update (iOS 9) which will allow the release of their next iPhone to guess what users want before they know themselves, to rival Google Now. The feature, codenamed “Proactive”, will automatically look at users’ behaviour and data to give them information when it’s needed. If a user is going to a concert and has their ticket stored in Passbook, the iPhone will be able to bring up the ticket without clicking; this is similar to how Google Now works on Android.
The feature will also expand into regular contacts and apps that are used at certain times, which will appear and predict a user’s behaviour. For example, if you usually call a certain person at 4pm on a Sunday, this contact will appear at the usual time and day. Apple are expected to unveil the new operating system at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WDC) this month.
The competition between Google and Apple are incrementally moving user experience into a tailored format. Although it might seem like a cat and mouse chase between the companies, the benefits for us the consumer could in the long-term assist us in terms of our tastes, thought patterns and our searching behaviours.
Jan Musa | Social Media & Marketing Manager
0203 301 9928 | firstname.lastname@example.org