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Shawn T

The "voice controlled" future is nearly here

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Reading the news stories from CES 2017, it dawned on me that very soon real life is going to catch up with Science Fiction in the area of total voice control of our homes and devices.

And I'm not just talking about asking your phone or smart speaker to look up information on the internet, or play a song for you.

You'll soon be able to pre-heat your oven, check if there's any milk left in your fridge, and even request your favorite refreshment be brought to you, all using voice commands from the comfort of your easy chair.

The Road to Total Voice Control:

While speech recognition voice control has been around almost as long as electronics and personal computers, in most cases it was limited to dictation and controlling the software applications installed on your PC. 

And while many high end cars like my 2011 Dodge Charger came with voice control of the entertainment center and Bluetooth connected cell phones, it seems like Smart Phones was where voice control seemed to find its first foothold with the masses.

Most would credit the release of Siri (in Beta) and the Apple iPhone 4S in late 2011 as the first iteration of this trend.

Unlike many previous attempts at voice recognition and control which either had a very limited number of commands or required a long period of training the software to recognize your speech patterns, Siri used its persistent connection to the internet to offload this work to the server farms back at Apple.

And the fact that Siri didn't work without a connection to the internet wasn't a major concern for most users since most of their requests involved asking Siri to look up information on the internet.

The success of Siri in 2012 wasn't missed by other tech companies, and many began to bring their own voice control product to market.

In our home, the next voice control product landed in 2013 in the form of the Kinect 2 enabled XBOX One.

Being able to turn a gaming console on and off with voice commands was nice, but being able to record a clip to share on your XBOX activity stream (like a Facebook wall for the XBOX) and start and stop Twitch streams verbally without stopping gameplay, was a much used and welcomed feature.

Then came the Amazon Echo, aka Alexa, in 2014. As a Prime member I got a chance to pre-order the unit before it was released to the public, and even though I didn't know what I was going to use it for I jumped at the chance to get early access to one.

In many ways Alexa was like Siri, but a standalone speaker version. And as a long time Amazon and Audible customer, the fact that Alexa had instant access to my substantial music and audio book library made using Alexa to listen to that library as simple ask just verbalizing the request.

Not to be left out, Microsoft jumped in by releasing its own "build-in" version of voice control for Windows 10 PCs in 2014.

Dubbed "Cortana," its release brought the friendly voice control features most people first because aware with Siri back in 2012 to the PC free off charge through Microsoft's no-cost Windows 10 upgrades.

Total Voice Control: Coming soon...

With that short history of voice control in mind, it seems to me that Amazon's foresight to license Alexa to be used in nearly anything is going to pay off.

I say this because so many products at this year's CES were shown with Alexa integration it's kind of hard to keep count.

From refrigerators with built-in LCD displays and cameras, to personal "Robot" assistants, to Ford vehicles, it seems like everything is getting voice control, and it is being made by the seemingly easy integration of Amazon's voice control technology.

If you want to see it for yourself, check out the below article which details many of the new products which will soon be releasing with voice control


And if you have an option about the future of voice control, please feel free to post them as a response to this post!


Shawn T



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On 1/20/2017 at 8:35 AM, osiris prime said:

Yep, the future is NOW!!!  Pretty cool stuff out now and coming up.  The only thing I have now that I use voice control for is the Xbox One and I use it quite often when I'm playing.

Me too - I'm soooo happy to have my Kinect back!

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