Computer: Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.

I’m a huge Star Trek: The Next Generation fan. I watched the episodes as they first aired, and have seen every one a handful of times. While interstellar space travel hasn’t quite come to fruition, we have seen some Trek tech come to life. Pretty much everyone has a mobile communication device in their back pocket and doctors can view patient data on their “padd”.

We’re on the verge of another awesome Trek tech adaptation…but we’re not there yet. “What” you say?  The ships computer, or as we know her “Computer”.

Apple’s Siri is probably the most commonly known voice recognition, voice control system.  However, in typical Apple fashion, Siri is locked down tighter than the Enterprise when Professor Moriarty is around.  Siri can’t even tap into the built-in Twitter functionality of iOS. #Lame.  Also, why isn’t Siri on Apple TV yet?

Do you own an XBOX 360?  If so, do you have Kinect?  No?  You should get one.  I’m not talking about so you can flail around trying to hit a virtual soccer balls with your head.  I’m talking about the voice control aspect of Kinect.  “XBOX. Quickplay. Hulu.” is a common phrase heard here at robodojo.  Kinect is more open than Siri.  Developers just have to include voice commands in their app.  Microsoft recently released the Kinect for Windows development kit.  This is great news for game developers and even better news for the folks that have already been hacking Kinect to do all sorts of neat things.

I recently bought a Ford Fiesta with SYNC.  This wasn’t really a selling point for me, but now that I have it, I don’t want to drive without it.  I can make and take phone calls with ease or listen to the music on my phone.  However, SYNC is very limited.  I’d like it to send and read text messages and tweets.  Ford has started rolling out AppLink, which offers deeper SYNC integration for app developers.  For instance, with the Pandora app I can play artist stations, “thumbs up” a track and skip tracks, all with my voice.  But that’s only with Pandora…and I don’t use Pandora.  AppLink is only available on a handful of apps.  I’d be interested to know if SYNC with MyFord Touch is any better than the base SYNC.

With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung also announced S Voice; Their Siri competitor.  I don’t know much about it, but I have to imagine that it has deeper integration than Siri.  S Voice isn’t the first voice control app on Android.  Voice Actions for Android pretty much comes on every phone.  I can’t wait to give S Voice a try.

All I really want is a seamless home-car-mobile voice control system.  Is that so much to ask?

It’s not likely that we’ll end up with a “voice control” standard any time soon, but I hope that the competing technologies push each other to the next level.

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