The Consumer Electronics Show took place in Las Vegas earlier this month. Scores of innovations, from smart homes to smart phones, were unveiled by designers from around the world.
Text messaging took center stage. Six15 demonstrated their SMS glasses, which transmit text messages from your mobile device straight to the lens, without the need for using hands.
But perhaps the most exciting new text message-related product was a new dual-purpose messaging app for both Android and iOS devices. UbiSpeak was developed by Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation (UCIC), the people behind The Ubi, a voice-controlled computer.
Using voice recognition software, it generates both a voice message and a text message. If the recipient also has the app, they’ll get both versions of the message; if they don’t have the app, they’ll get the SMS along with a link to the audio version.
UbiSpeak isn’t the first of its kind - both Android and Apple have their own versions of something similar - but it is faster and more reliable. The makers say two mediums transmitting the same content gives users ‘a lot more confidence when… sending a quick message.’
Like a number of messaging apps, it automatically populates your contact list with the people who you text most often. Other features include a VIP contact option, which will automatically play messages from people you designate - even if the phone is locked.
The app marks a new chapter for UCIC. The Toronto-based startup made their name with The Ubi, a WiFi connected, voice operated computer that uses Android to process spoken commands. You can operate your lighting, for instance, so you can always get that basement light to go on when you’ve got your arms full. Their technology is pretty smart - and it gets better at understanding you over time.
UbiSpeak (and it’s forbear) is far from perfect, because speech recognition technology is proving one of the hardest nuts to crack. Progress is slow, and it may be decades before truly accurate voice recognition hardware is available. But that’s why it’s even more important that pioneers like UCIC keep pushing boundaries. The more consumers use voice recognition apps and home computers, the more data we can draw on to find out how people use them. In the long run, that will expedite the slow progression towards flawless, 100% accurate voice recognition technology.