fiction paparazzi short stories tech video games

Technology finally catching up with me


If any of you have read the extract from my short story Paparazzi, you’ll remember a couple of the characters communicating with each other using something called a ‘Voice-Free Choker’ – a neck band that picks up nerve signals to the larynx and converts them into text or speech. Well, this morning I stumbled across this video at New Scientist of someone demonstrating what appears to be exactly that technology:

Of course I’m not really claiming to have thought this up – this system was developed by Texas Instruments – but the first I heard of the concept it was being touted by NASA to be built into the spacesuits for the probably-never-going-to-happen first manned Mars mission. The demo here shows it being used to make a phone-call, but I envisioned it being used for in game communications and for when privacy is needed in public spaces. Of course if it can convert ‘thoughts’ to speech it can also convert to text….handsfree SMS texting, anyone?

Very cool.

4 thoughts on “Technology finally catching up with me”

  1. Hmmm. I wonder how well that would work. By just concentrating (or focusing – to use the syntax from my story) on what you hear, would it easily transcribe everything? Must be easier than manually dictation?

  2. I guess you want to pick up a dominant and consistent volume level, and transcribe that. You could ignore sudden loud noises to some extent I think, say you were listening to someone, and another person shouted nearby, you could possibly not transcribe that, sort of like the noise gates or whatever it is you have when you record speech to stop overly loud sound. I guess this is entering into the transcription territories that Google video was trying to deal with at some stage, they were trying to create searchable video, but their solution was just to manually transcribe the key points of a long video. That’s kind of fallen by the wayside with them buying Youtube.

  3. I don’t think the technology works *quite* like you’re describing – the user has to be consciously concentrating on the words it wants the system to pick up – not just on what the user hears, or is thinking. It’s a little like talking into speech recognition software; it works more effectively if you more pronounced, etc. In other words, there is a VERY conscious effort involved. With that in mind, the procedure I described above for transcribing what you hear actually might be a real pain in the arse…

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