If you’re running the latest version of Google’s Chrome web browser, you can now talk to the internet. It won’t listen, and it won’t do what you say, but it will recognize what words you’ve spoken. Which is a good start.
The beta of Chrome 11 includes support for a speech input technology, part of the HTML5 standard. That means that if someone makes a suitable webpage, you can issue commands and instructions to it just by speaking.
Needless to say, someone has made such a page: this one. It might not look like much, but it works.
If you’re using the right version of Chrome, you can click on the little microphone symbol to the right of the text box. A little “Speak now” bubble pops up, and you just have to think of something interesting to say.
Like most speech recognition systems, it doesn’t get everything right first time. But it does get a decent amount of things right, and considering it’s being done without the need for Flash or any other special software plugins, that’s pretty impressive in our book.
This is just a technology demo, it doesn’t actually do anything. But it might be a pointer to the future. In a few years time, the days of clicking on links might be over; you might just say them out loud instead. Which could make office life more interesting…