One of the coolest parts about any futuristic movies is always the computers that the writers and producers come up with.
They have cool things like touch screens and 3D displays and interactive voices that will talk to you… Wait… wait just a second… we have all that. We have all that right now with our smart phones, we are living in a time that was created through science fiction.
One of my favorite ideas was a computer that you could talk to and it would talk back, it fascinated me. When Siri came out for the iPhone, I knew we were one step closer to Majel Barrett (the actress who played most of the computer voices in Star Trek).
But the fact is that programmers have had this kind of capability for many years.
In the .NET framework there is a feature called Speech Synthesizer.
Options are limited but you can select any of three (David, Hazel or Zira) default voices and have it read off strings of text to your user for basic instructions. There are a bevy of web sites that will allow you to install new voices and even ways to create your own, which is a time and labor intensive option, but possible.
Right now, these types of applications are used mostly for visually impaired users to help them get the same use out of applications. And recently they are used more and more for things like GPS navigation and in cars to try and help drivers prevent texting while behind the wheel.
Microsoft hasn’t advanced the Speech Synthesizer much in the last three release versions of .NET but the potential is there.
Think about it: A fully automated, voice activated home.
Need to wake up in the morning? Easy, set an alarm and let your speakers wake you up in the morning with a friendly message. Dark in the house? Easy, simply say the phrase “Computer, lights”. A quick question about the current population of a city, a state, the country… all within voice range, anywhere in your house.
Of course, this is probably still years if not decades away from being a viable large scale idea. A fully integrated computer into a home will take years of programming and testing (no one wants their home CPU to fail and not be able to turn on a light or the A/C), but it’s coming.