Microsoft Surface Recognition? What Happened To Voice Recognition?

All the hype behind the latest technology from Microsoft, called Surface Recognition, seems to forget one little fact. Whatever happened to voice recognition? I recall a time when voice recognition was also going to change the way we dealt with computer systems. I also recall similar statements that the keyboard and mouse would go the way of the Dodo bird because we would only have to talk to our computer systems and like magic our wishes would be instantly carried out. Typing? Nope. You would just talk to your computer and like magic a letter would be typed at the speed of light. It was envisioned that secretarial jobs would vanish overnight.

Microsoft and other companies invested billions into speech recognition software. No matter how much it was hyped, it just didn’t work right. For the most part it has been a fiasco. If you have ever tried to get speech recognition to work you know how frustrating it can be.

So let us look at this new technology that Microsoft calls Surface Recognition and put all the hype aside. First of all it is going to use some form of Windows so it starts out with two strikes against it already. What are you going to do when the system freezes up? Turn the coffee table upside down to push the reset button? If there is a hardware problem with the unit, do you call a furniture maker or a computer tech?

Fingerprints. I don’t know about you but I hate fingerprints on my computer screen. I have never understood why, when someone wants to point to something on a screen, they must put greasy pinky prints to the screen and push hard. It’s like us men with a remote. When the remote doesn’t respond, we push on the buttons harder. It doesn’t dawn on us that the remote could use some new batteries one in a while. So will every unit come with a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels?

Here is the serious part. If it was Apple who came out with this technology, I would give it a green light. But after seeing some of the problems that Vista is having, can anyone really take anything seriously from the master of patches and fixes? I think not. But that is just my two cents.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

[tags]microsoft, surface recognition, voice recognition[/tags]

Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • marc klink

    It has always been CPU intensive to do voice recognition, but with dual and quad core processors, you’d think 1 could be dedicated to the task.
    I worked for awhile with Dragon Naturally Speaking, and just like cell phones of 2 generations ago, voice training was specific and critical [I don’t even want to think about homonyms!] However, since the recognition software has gotten so much better on cell phones, and cell phone processors are ants in the world of giants compared with mainstream CPUs, it should reappear. After all, Captain Kirk had [will have!] it.

  • What is the Microsoft Surface?

    I don’t think that this is a replacement for voice recognition. The two ideas are aimed at different user bases. The surface is aimed at busy, loud places such as hotels and casinos. Voice recognition would be quite useless there.

  • Ron Schenone

    Hi Marc,
    Thanks for the comment.

  • Rick Hogan

    For me, personally, speech recognition never had much appeal. I just can’t picture myself sitting here talking out loud to my computer instead of typing this message in – especially when I am sitting in a big office full of people in tiny little cubicles. It’s bad enough when people are talking on their phones. I just couldn’t imagine everyone talking out loud to their computers all day long!

    I know this is just my personal opinion, but I suspect this has something to do with why speech recognition won’t be replacing our keyboards and mice any time soon.


  • Itamar Even-Zohar

    I strongly disagree with your conclusions about speech recognition. SR does work magnificently (in at least 5 languages) with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It saves time and energy to people who have learned how to produce their texts by speaking rather than by typing. Dictating has been there, after all, for ages even before the invention of any computer, so it is not something which is revolutionary per se.

    As for Microsoft, I have been using Micorsoft Speech 2003 with great success (under Windows XP), and I can also testify that Vista Speech (WSR) is at least as accurate as Dragon NS, in at least the 4 languages I have tested and worked with. In addition, its fabulous set of commands and its advanced command-and-control make it a very useful tool.

    The scenario of someone sending a WAV file to your computer to destroy it is compeletely imaginary, though the Microsoft person who answered does not seem to know much about WSR himslef. WSR cannot work unless it learned a specifc voice. No WAV file speaking with a different voice and accent can be understood by Vista speech recognition. In addition, to be “heard” by the program, the AUDIO INPUT must be TUNED to internal mix, something that only the computer’s user can do manually. Otherwise, SR expects to get its input from a microphone. If the intended voice (audio) input is a computer-played audio file, it may indeed be “heard” by the program via the system SPEAKERS as if it had been produced by a microphone, but the quality of this type of input will be so low that I would not expect any recognition even if the voice happened miraculously to coincoide with the computer’s owner voice.

    Last, but not least, when I am not working with SR, the microphone is turned off, and there is no command available to turn it on by voice. If some WAV file all of a sudden started playing without my knowledge and not in my presence, the program simply won’t “hear” it.

  • Ron Schenone

    Hi Itamar Even-Zohar,
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It seems that you have had a very good experience in using SR. Congrats. Your comments are very much appreciated.

  • Taya

    I agree, Voice recognition is soooooooooo frustating! i tell it to open mozilla and it goes ‘switch to desktop’

    I thought ‘ok, i’ll just train it’ but it just GOT WORST
    however, my brother’s voice recognition works fine!
    While i have to suffer ! And here, i thought i would be able to speak my essays rather than typing them up. I’m hoping to find a reset button for my voice recognition…

  • Brian

    I used to be a full-blown desktop user with an iPad 1 (before this of course, I’ve had a couple laptops for school).

    I eventually caved in and decided I needed the power of my desktop, but the portability of the iPad. So eventually purchased a (2011) Macbook Pro. Best purchase of my life in my opinion. I still use the iPad for Hulu, Netflix and YouTube while working on my MBP.

  • Anonymous

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    Here is the website we use to get it all from,