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OPLIN 4cast #335: Shushing the computer users

Posted in 4cast

male silhouetteIf you get really annoyed by people talking on their cellphones while they are in the library, then you are certainly going to love this bit of news. Google is about to make it possible to verbally ask your desktop computer questions instead of typing them into a Google search box. At this point, the technology would require that the computer have a microphone and be running the Chrome browser, so libraries that want to stay quiet can simply make sure that at least one of these pieces is missing from their public computers. But you know the day will come when someone gets angry because they cannot talk to a public computer in the library.

  • Google introduces conversational search for the desktop with “hotwording,” prompting it with “OK Google” (TechCrunch/Drew Olanoff) “Until now, you could search for things using your voice…but you couldn’t ask questions. Now, you’ll be able to keep your mic open without clicking a button, by waking Google up with the prompt ‘OK Google.’ This is similar to the prompt that wakes up Google Glass. You can say things like ‘Show me things to do in Santa Cruz’ and get results quickly, and with the context that you need to take an action.”
  • Google shows off hands-free, conversational search (PC Magazine/Chloe Albanesius) “Forget about typing your request; Google wants to bring voice-activated search to the desktop. Mobile users can already use the microphones on their iOS and Android mobile devices to speak search commands. Today, Google previewed hands-free voice search for the PC via Chrome.”
  • Google’s new conversational search makes Star Trek-style search real (Lifehacker/Alan Henry) “You start a search by saying ‘Okay, Google…,’ speak your query, whether it’s ‘when does my flight leave’ or trivia like ‘what’s the population of my town.’ Google responds, both by voice and with text results. Conversational Search uses the data that Google has about you and your activities to power search results with information that’s actually relevant to your interests.”
  • “OK, Google”: Forget web search, now you can hold a conversation with your computer (Slate/Will Oremus) “The features are the next steps in Google’s long-term progression from a search-engine website to a ubiquitous artificial-intelligence machine that can answer any question you have on whatever device you happen to be using at the time. For now that includes your smartphone, your tablet, and your computer. In the future it might include your smart watch or smart glasses, your self-driving car, and who knows what else.”

Déjà vu fact:
We mentioned conversational search in a previous 4cast, but the “hotwording” development was just announced in San Francisco last week during Google I/O 2013.