Talking about voice control, by testing voice control

Adaptive technologies are interesting. First off, there are a number of products in the space of helping and allowing alternative inputs to computers. For example, there is the tobii product that allows you to interact with your computer via your eyes only. Tracking the motion of your eyes as a way to use onscreen keyboards, select and navigate the computer. There is the leap sensor, that allows you to create simple gestures to complete complex tasks. Finally, there is the exploding world of voice control. From Dragon Naturally speaking to Siri, Google voice and Cortana the world of talking to your device is growing rapidly.

I won’t argue about the validity of voice control. It is somewhat problematic and like using gesture control you have to be in a place where you can gesture wildly or speak clearly without other noises. I do think the gesture control system implemented within the Microsoft Hololens is pretty cool. It is actually sensing smaller motion than leap uses. That said voice control and motion control still remain things you do in your work space. You would leverage voice control in a cube farm because of the conversation issue. People would assume you are conversing with them. As you attempt to dictate an email.

Over the course of the last month I decided to spend time with each of the voice control systems. I started out the month with Apple’s Siri, then used Google voice and finally Cortana. In fairness to each of the systems I used them on the same device (an iPhone) and I used them on a Native device. For Siri it was an iPad. For Google voice it was via a Chromebook and a Samsung Note Tablet. I used Cortana on a Surface Book as well as its native platform.

1. Cortana is clearly the most effective cross platform.

2. Google voice works best on tablets and worst on the iPhone.

3. Siri is last in the test so far.

The tests are listed below noting the tool used (google voice doesn’t do some of the OS commands so I didn’t compare it there.)

Test

platform

Tool used

Expected result

Actual result

Notes

Launch an application

iPhone

Siri

Cortana

(not applicable to google voice)

Application launched

Siri – launched application about ½ the time

Cortana launched correct app all but one time (out of ten)

Siri struggled to complete tasks and returned I am sorry I did not understand frequently.

Launch an application

Chromebook

Google Voice

(no Siri or Cortana)

Launch a chrome application

Completed about 7 out of ten times

Only works on chrome apps so the value is lower

Launch an application

Windows Surface Book

Cortana

Google Voice

(no Siri)

Launch a windows app

Cortana launched 10 out of 10

Google does not apply

As expected Cortana was able and integrated.

Web search

iPhone

Siri

Cortana

(not applicable to google voice)

In browser window search for (used 10 different terms) X

Siri launched 10 out of 10

Google launched 10 out of 10

Cortana launched 10 out of 10

Siri and Google both struggled with complex technical searches.

Web search

Chromebook

Google Voice

(no Siri or Cortana)

In browser window search for (used 10 different terms) X

Google launched ten out of ten

Same issue with complex technical searches for Google.

Web search

Windows Surface Book

Cortana

Google Voice

(no Siri)

In browser window search for (used 10 different terms) X

Cortana launched 10 out of 10

Google launched 10 out of 10

Notes, using the HoloLens, Cortana was also effective. No issues with Cortana and technical searches.

The test results were as expected as I have been using Cortana more and more on my iPhone. The area that was most interesting and one that I need to evaluate more was that of struggling with technical searches (Active Directory Fire Wall Ports used). Google was ok, getting the search results that Cortana got but the actual search from speaking to search launching was a lot longer and Google did ask me to repeat the question one time.

Overall I have to say Cortana has become a very useful tool.

.doc

I am not talking to myself, I am conversing with Cortana!