A Google engineer seems to be certain that the future will bring us display-free computing devices that rely on voice recognition software to get the job done in a world in which the user will be surrounded by all sorts of computers.
“We are looking to a future where we have a whole variety of devices,” Google’s senior engineering director Scott Huffman told the Guardian. “We have a super computer in our pockets, but also one in our watch, one in our glasses, maybe on our lapel as well as our laptop. Some of those have a screen and a keyboard, but some won’t, and we’re seeing dramatic growth in the numbers of people interacting through voice recognition.”
Without revealing actual usage numbers, Google said that 3% of the U.S. population uses voice controls daily on their Android devices. Furthermore, more than half of the U.S. population has a smartphone with voice controls, and two-thirds of those are aware of their existence. Half of those people use the feature more than once each month, with one in five using it daily.
Even so, we’re still far from a Star Trek-like environment where the computer is always listening for voice commands, as some of the devices mentioned by Huffman, including wearable gadgets such as smartwatches and smart glasses, have yet to take off. Moreover, in addition to the “litany of problems” on the software side that Google still has to go through to improve its voice recognition software, there are also privacy-related controls in a world where more and more reports reveal various surveillance practices conducted by governments.
However, Huffman also said that just like any data flow between Google servers and users, voice commands are also protected by Google’s data encryption.