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How Does Voice Recognition Work?

voice recognition

How Does Voice Recognition Work?

Just say the word… Speech recognition technology has grown by leaps and bounds, changing the way we interact with our technology.

Voice recognition technology allows your verbal instructions to be interpreted and understood by a device, eliciting a specific response.

In other words, rely less on direct input like typing, and more on spoken commands and cues. Sounds like the stuff of science fiction? The tech has actually been around for quite a while, but it’s made major strides in recent years and grown more mainstream. It’s more functional and practical than ever too.



How does voice recognition work?

Imagine stepping into your living room after a long day at work.

With smart technology and voice recognition, you can tell your home exactly what temperature the room should be, turn on the kitchen lights, and maybe cue some relaxing music to help you unwind. All with spoken commands before you’ve even taken your shoes off. Smart speaker tools like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home are all exploding in popularity for these exact reasons.
Or, maybe you’re neck-deep in meetings and need to set a reminder to pick up milk on the way home? Just speak to your phone: “Remind me to pick up milk at 6pm.” Done.

Voice commands allow you to engage and leverage technology in a hands-off way. It used to be that these tools were clunky, requiring you to speak with perfect clarity and diction in order for the direction to be even marginally understood. And background noise? That could derail everything. Thanks to recent advances, the process is smooth and easy now. Plus, your tech can learn your voice more effectively than ever.

So, how does it actually work?

Human speech and language is a complex thing. There’s more to it than just sound: nuanced differences in tone, inflection, and context can change the meaning of what we’re saying. Plus there are individual speech patterns and rhythms to factor in, not to mention slang terms that might just roll off your tongue. It’s a multi-dimensional concept, and that kind of mastery is a lot to ask of technology that’s designed to process raw data.

In order for your smart device to work, it needs to learn your voice.

  1. First, it listens. Simple enough, right?
  2. It then breaks these sounds (your voice) down into pieces for analysis. By sifting through the sounds it’s receiving, it identifies your voice components, and also can reject (or ignore) outside sounds that are irrelevant. Someone yelling in the background? It can be excluded from processing.
  3. Next, the sound waves are converted into numbers (or bits): the building block of computer language. Now it begins to understand what it’s hearing.
  4. To replicate the human neural network, to the degree possible, algorithms are used to process this huge amount of data, quickly identifying all those different subtleties that make your voice uniquely yours. These “Recurrent Neural Networks” also help your technology to ideally stay a step ahead, predicting what’s coming next based on what you’ve already said. Think of it like predictive text when you’re typing. If you type, “Hi, how’s your day?” a lot to your significant other, your phone will begin to recognize that pattern and suggest it as soon as you type “Hi.”

We can’t cover this without mentioning natural language processing (NLP). This is a whole sector of computer science and artificial intelligence that focuses on helping computers to understand and interpret human language. It’s been around for over half a century, but certainly has never been more effective or relevant than it is today.

This just scratches the surface, but we thought some larger context would be helpful as we explore the real-world applications.



How is speech recognition software used?

We shared the example above of using voice commands as a way to welcome yourself home after a long day.

Totally applicable, but that’s the low-hanging fruit. There are some other really fascinating applications that illustrate just how far this technology can go, and the larger implications.

Voice recognition and security systems

Remember, your voice is unique. Since this tool can break down the sound, and is literally built to analyze and identify its qualities, it stands to reason that there are deep security applications here. A voice analysis can act like a security code or facial scan.

This is helpful at workplaces, secure facilities, financial institutions, and other professional environments, but it also can be used for home security as well.

Voice recognition and audio transcription

If you rely on extensive note taking, continuous speech recognition and transcription software can be a major time saver. Plus, your hands and fingers will thank you for not relying on typing and texting so much. We would just recommend investing in a high-quality microphone and software. You get what you pay for, and you’ll want to avoid the frustration and inaccuracy of poor transcription.

As a real-world example, we offer VoIP business phone solutions, like Nebulosity, that convert voicemails to text and email format. This kind of quick, convenient transcription is a perfect application for voice recognition technology.

Voice recognition and the healthcare industry

If you’re a surgeon, you’ve got your hands full. Extremely full. Speech recognition software allows medical professionals to maintain careful notes, updates, and direction during procedures. The applications are diverse and invaluable for the healthcare sector, saving time and improving record keeping.

Speech recognition and secure voice commands

We touched on security above, but let’s dig into that a bit deeper. What if you need to make a phone call, maybe to authorize a banking transaction, or to access secure information? Sophisticated voice recognition can turn your voice into a passcode of sorts using voice biometry, identifying and verifying its unique attributes. It’s like a fingerprint, only made of sound.

Voice recognition and law enforcement

Imagine having an audio clip of a suspect in a crime, and being able to process that audio to clearly identify the person? If an audio sample isn’t on file already, it could be matched up against the voice in person, or compared to sample clips (perhaps from social media or a captured phone call). Audio forensic technology is becoming increasingly viable for law enforcement agencies.

Speech recognition in the workplace

Need a transcript of a phone call? How about capturing word-for-word minutes from an important meeting? Or, maybe you use a digital assistant during your workday to send emails, texts, or make notes. Voice recognition is an ever-ready assistant – no coffee or breaks required. And much of it can be done with just a mobile device.



What’s the next step?

With all of this potential, knowing where to start can feel overwhelming. Our advice is to talk with an IT services professional who can evaluate your workplace needs. They know the tech that’s available and can help you find just the right solutions.

Contact the team here at Teltek! We are here to help!

Teltek Blogger

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