Outside the mouse and keyboard box

Here’s an attempt to explain the potential of the speech interface.

Controlling a computer using a mouse and keyboard is a very specific type of control, and for many years it was all we knew. This type of control still defines how we think about communicating with computers.

While it’s good to tap existing knowledge, it’s important not to let experience confine new methods of communication.

The way today’s speech interfaces work, speech commands often follow in the footsteps of the keyboard and mouse (“File”, “Open”, “Budget”, “Enter”) rather than tapping the full potential of speech (“Budget Folder”).

Think about the differences between road travel and air travel.

A plane goes faster than a car, so following a road from the air is faster than driving, and following roads might not be a bad idea at first to get your bearings. But the real power of air travel is the ability to travel any route, including over areas inaccessible by car like large bodies of water, mountain ranges and polar regions.

The Human-Machine Grammar that underpins Utter Command is aimed at mapping the best way to use speech to control the computer. The real power of speech is the ability to command the computer in ways not possible using the keyboard and mouse.

Here’s another metaphor:

In the days when cars that went 15 miles an hour were cutting-edge, this seemed fast — four times faster than walking and you didn’t have to expend energy. It may seem like working on a computer is fast today. It’s not. Speech has the potential to take us into another realm in terms of productivity.

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