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Control your computer by grunting

By TheophileEscargot in MLP
Fri Oct 19, 2001 at 01:00:17 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

Dr Takeo Igarashi believes that grunts and sighs could be an efficient way to control your computer and appliances. For instance when, you say "move down, ahhhh", a document would scroll while the sound continues, the scroll speed determined by the pitch of the "ahhhh".

There is a good BBC writeup, a New Scientist article and more information on Igarashi's homepage

From the BBC article:

Voice recognition programs work by measuring variations in spoken commands. His system would work by measuring the pitch and duration of grunt-like sounds liked "ah" and "umm".

Dr Igarashi believes a quick "uh oh" could produce an Undo command much faster than having to use a mouse.

He believes it could even be used in the home to control your television. So you would say "volume up, ahhhhhh", and the volume of the TV would rise while the "ahhh" continues.


Voxel dot net
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Good idea?
o Mmmmmmm! 24%
o Hmmmmm... 12%
o Grrrrrrrr 12%
o Uh-uh 12%
o Doh! 38%

Votes: 49
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o BBC writeup
o New Scientist article
o more information
o Igarashi's homepage
o Also by TheophileEscargot

Display: Sort:
Control your computer by grunting | 24 comments (19 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
What does this have to do (2.33 / 9) (#1)
by wiredog on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 08:25:20 AM EST

With the Recent Tragic Events which obviously are and clearly aren't the fault of the West and the Global Girl Scout Conspiracy?

Hey, Rusty. Feeling better yet?

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle

Great (4.16 / 6) (#2)
by Cloaked User on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 08:27:17 AM EST

Like my office doesn't get noisy enough at times as it is...


"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
Also... (4.71 / 7) (#4)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 08:30:38 AM EST

...if scroll speed is determined by pitch, I reckon us techies would be be using high-pitched, sqeaky yelps to navigate.

It could be something like working in an entire office of Michael Jackson impersonators...
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Yes, but... (4.37 / 8) (#3)
by codemonkey_uk on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 08:28:21 AM EST

This is nothing new, really. I've seen (more than two years ago) a normal Windows PC with "Dragon Speaking" software on it, controlled 100% without a keyboard. This adds some interesting new ideas, but accentuates the two central problem with voice controlled software.

  1. The user looks/sounds like a lunatic
  2. The user is very annoying to anyone working near them.
These central problems are enough to stop voice recognition software catching on in a big way without the addition of silly noises, grunts, and whistles.
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
The full paper under the 'more information' link (4.66 / 3) (#5)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 08:35:32 AM EST

does mention using "voiceless, breathed" sound... but it doesn't seem to give too many details.
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
Controlling by voice can be bad (3.75 / 4) (#6)
by theboz on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 08:42:27 AM EST

In cases like this, where they want to take simple sounds to control things is stupid. I'm assuming that the doctor is from an Asian country, where people sit and watch TV, movies, concerts, and sports events silently. I think it would work ok there, but when you get to the U.S. and other western nations, people often talk to the TV or make other noises.

Here's an example: Imagine watching a funny movie on your DVD player, and it gets to a scene that makes you want to laugh. However, your voice controlled TV makes the volume go up or down based on how you go "ah." So, you go "a hahahahahaha" and the volume controls fluctuate quickly, thus ruining your movie experience. Or perhaps you are watching something with singing in it, and it just so happens to be Mariah Carey with her famous high pitched scream. Well be prepared for your volume to be turned all the way up, making you scream.

That's why volume controls should be something more complicated, like, "TV VOLUME UP 10" to turn up the TV volume ten clicks. While it wouldn't be as easy as grunting like a caveman, it would be more accurate and prevent problems. Perhaps a standard protocol needs to be written for people to learn for voice activation?


It seems to be based on combining 'grunts'... (3.66 / 3) (#7)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 08:55:23 AM EST

...with other voice controls, or with normal controls. From the PDF under "more information" he says:

When the user says "move up, ahhhh", the map on the screen scrolls down while the sound continues

In the "discrete" mode

When the user says "channel up, ta ta ta" the channel number increases by three.

If the "move up" and "channel up" use normal voice recognition, unless you specifically train it to recognise Mariah Carey and she says "channel up ahhhhh", you should be all right.

Of course, it could still be a problem if you are Mariah Carey...
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Asian culture (4.66 / 3) (#12)
by Best Ace on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 11:23:53 AM EST

'...from an Asian country, where people sit and watch TV, movies, concerts, and sports events silently'

I take it you've never seen a Bollywood movie/listened to Hindipop/seen (live or on TV) a cricket game between India and Pakistan?

Why should these technology problems be any different in Asia or the West?

[ Parent ]

I wonder if.... (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by Elkor on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 11:04:11 AM EST

The tv controls will have a directional mike to prevent programs from affecting the controls?

Ohterwise you could have an infomercial for the TV changing the volume/channel of the tv you are watching the infomercial on. Of course, people with surround sound would have problems. :)

Or, if you have kids who like to sing... just imagine the possibilities!

kids: "I went to the witch doctor and this is what he said, "Ooh, ee, ooh ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang."

TV: Volume up 10 pts then down 6pts, 3 channel changes and a color adjustment.

I don't doubt that these are considerations that will be taken into account, but it sure does allow for some interesting speculation.


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Well ... (none / 0) (#23)
by Kalani on Fri Oct 19, 2001 at 06:14:53 AM EST

Why not allow some arbitrarily complex voice command to toggle listen-mode?

Also, please let your children outside.

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Just make sure... (4.00 / 3) (#13)
by Ranger Rick on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 11:48:44 AM EST

...you're not watching James Brown on TV or all hell would break loose-uh!

(sorry, couldn't help myself)


Or, even... (4.33 / 3) (#14)
by rusty on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 12:53:44 PM EST

...someone at Mozilla could tie in gruntlib with the browser, so you could use K5 with noises.

rusty voted "Huh, Good God, yeeeeow!" on this article.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Kiss Myself, Huh! (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by Ranger Rick on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 02:52:47 PM EST

Sometimes, Rusty, you scare me.


[ Parent ]
It's a man's world (4.33 / 3) (#20)
by rusty on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 03:30:27 PM EST

Get on up, huh.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Have a toddler? (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by Happy Monkey on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 01:33:15 PM EST

Avoid the Teletubbies if you have this installed.
Length 17, Width 3
Exciting new interface (4.83 / 6) (#17)
by itsbruce on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 02:13:20 PM EST

For porn websites. Let your grunts do the browsing.

Alternatively, pop a porn movie into the video player, place your PC microphone near the speaker and see where it takes you. "Move down, aaaaah" indeed!

--It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.

useful for disabled folk? (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by bobsquatch on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 07:13:17 PM EST

One wonders how useful this could be for people who can't manage anything clearer than a grunt or moan. Perhaps some moan->speech translation software could allow these people to be understood, without requiring the rest of the world to learn the grunting language (or some language's sign language).

Or, just use it where voice-controlled equipment is used now for articulate-but-paralyzed folk.

(Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about accessibility tech. If this is a bad idea, I'd like to know why.)

Mmm. (4.66 / 3) (#22)
by J'raxis on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 07:17:36 PM EST

Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmuhh. Mmmmuhhh!!

— The Mmmmrrr Rrruuhhh...

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

Voice control sucks (none / 0) (#24)
by weirdling on Wed Jan 16, 2002 at 01:35:13 AM EST

Macs have had voice control for a very long time, since OS 8. At that time, I installed it, and it worked rather well until someone said something on the radio that sounded like 'netscape' and I had to wait for that to start and then shut it down. Then my roomate figured out that he could just sit up from whatever he was doing and command the computer to close a window or shutdown or whatever, and away it'd go. Very quickly disabled.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Control your computer by grunting | 24 comments (19 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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