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Science
04 Jan 2019

Microsoft's tech could help you command voice assistants 'silently'

Microsoft patents 'silent voice input' tech

Today, smart voice assistants can handle a range of tasks on phones and at homes.

But, in order to get these 'digital helpers' to work, you first have to issue commands that are loud enough to be picked up by their system.

This often looks awkward at public places, a problem Microsoft may solve with a tech to command these systems 'silently'.

Here's how.

In context

Microsoft patents 'silent voice input' tech
Problems associated with voice assistant commands

Issue

Problems associated with voice assistant commands

Modern smart assistants are pretty good at picking up and executing voice commands.

But, when you're in a public space, surrounded by several unknown individuals, you may hesitate to command your assistant.

The reasons are obvious: you may not want to disturb others or give away your private information and trigger phrases controlling your device's voice assistant functions.

Microsoft's fix

Microsoft envisions 'silent voice input' to solve this issue

To solve this so-called 'social issue', Microsoft has envisioned a tech that tackles the core of the issue -- speaking loudly.

The Redmond giant has patented a 'silent voice input' module, which, as the name suggests, would require you to whisper into the device from a small distance, say about one or two millimeters.

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However, this won't be a normal whisper

Command method

However, this won't be a normal whisper

The silent command, as the patent suggests, won't be a normal whisper, where one breathes-out, but one where we breathe in (ingressive airflow).

So, you'll have to breathe in or inhale while whispering to the assistant and it will be able to capture what you are saying, without any distortion or leakage of audio.

Notably, the rest of the commanding technique won't be changed.

Also 'silent voice input' could work on various devices

According to the patent filing, published just recently, the silent input module could be integrated on a range of devices, including smartphones, smartwatches, TV remotes, headsets, and even smart 'rings'.

Issue #2

Idea sounds promising, but awkwardness still remains

The idea of whispering into an assistant in a specific way sounds pretty interesting and could help people issue 'silent commands'.

But, the main mission was to weed out awkwardness from the process of commanding assistants in public spaces.

As such, we're not sure how many people would be comfortable with whispering into their smartwatches, phones or other devices.

Still, there's no surety on its use

Having said that, it is important to reiterate that it's just a patent, which means Microsoft may or may not go ahead with this idea and integrate the proposed module into any smart device.

Ask NewsBytes
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Most asked questions

Will anybody else hear my commands with this system?

When will this system come to our phones?

Is Cortana better than Google Assistant?

Can I order food via Amazon Echo?

More questions

Will anybody else hear my commands with this system?

Asked 2019-01-04 16:50:38 by Rishika Rodrigues

Answered by NewsBytes

No, with this system, nobody else would be hearing your silent commands, but do note that they could see whispering something into your gadget.

When will this system come to our phones?

Asked 2019-01-04 16:50:38 by Muhammad Bhatnagar

Answered by NewsBytes

There's no surety at this stage. It is just a patent and may or may not turn into a real-world product for smartphone and smartwatch users.

Is Cortana better than Google Assistant?

Asked 2019-01-04 16:50:38 by Pari Mittal

Answered by NewsBytes

No, in terms of handling queries, Cortana is not better than Google Assistant. This is our opinion as well as the result of a recently conducted study.

Can I order food via Amazon Echo?

Asked 2019-01-04 16:50:38 by Surabhi Lobo

Answered by NewsBytes

Yes, you can. But, first, you'll have to link your Zomato account with the Alexa app and say, "Alexa, order food from Zomato". Then, it will use the default address from your account, ask cuisine preferences, and list out open restaurants and available meals to finish placing your order.

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