Speech recognition: Gimmick or good enough?

While some consider speech recognition a gimmick, the smartphone industry continues to develop it

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When Motorola released its Moto X smartphone earlier this month, the voice recognition feature was considered one of the most noteworthy. The first device Motorola conceived and built since Google acquired the company, the Moto X used voice-recognition technology to access Google Now, a digital personal assistant of sorts that makes recommendations based on the user's search history.

All a Moto X user has to do is say "OK Google Now" while in the vicinity of the phone, and the personal assistant would activate to execute whatever command followed. That means no clumsy typing on a touchscreen while the users' hands are busy, like when they're driving, for example. David Pogue at The New York Times called voice command feature the phone's "most useful," claiming that its no-touch capability makes it a safer and more convenient alternative to Apple's Siri.

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Clearly, voice recognition technology has made some progress in the past few years. So how come nobody seems to want to use it?Adib Ghubril, a research director at Gartner, recently tried to use Siri while on vacation to get directions to Chateau Laurier, a historical hotel in Ottawa. After Siri failed to process the request several times, Ghubril found that it worked when he stopped saying the word in French and instead pronounced it the way an English speaker would interpret it.

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