posted at 03:51
Author: MIT Technology Review
Voice Control: Coming Soon to a House Near You
A startup called Wit.ai plans to make it easy for hardware makers and software developers to add custom voice controls to everything from smartphones and smart watches to Internet-connected thermostats and drones. To give all kinds of developers access to a simple-to-use, always-learning natural-language service, the company is offering it free to those who agree to share their user data with the Wit.ai community. Wit.ai uses what it knows about language to figure out the different ways a command might be expressed. When a user wants to set the alarm for a specific time, that person's utterances are sent to a Wit.ai server, which analyzes the audio and sends structured data back to the gadget -here, the instruction to set the alarm for the proper date and time. Already, about 4,600 developers are using Wit.ai with things like mobile apps, robots, home automation, and wearable devices. At a hackathon last month at his school, Mostowich and his team used Wit.ai to add voice control to a toaster and microwave. While Lebrun says Wit.ai can also be used to varying extents in Spanish, French, German, Italian and Swedish, it's still far better in English. He hopes to enable developers to use Wit.ai online to build and train voice interactions and then download it so it can be used on, say, a smartphone, without needing an Internet connection.

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