What is Voice Recognition?

By: Danielle Chazen

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Voice recognition technology can interpret speech and identify a single speaker. Like fingerprints, individual’s have unique markers in their voices that technology can use to identify them. Many companies are already using this tool to authenticate that a person is indeed the individual they claim to be when speaking.  

Voice recognition differs from speech recognition, which only identifies the words a person says. Instead, voice recognition analyzes countless patterns and elements that distinguish one person’s voice from another. People are now using voice recognition in every facet of our lives, personally and professionally. Still not everyone understands the role that voice recognition software plays. Here is a basic background of voice recognition, how it works and few ways that we’re already tapping into this tool at work and in our day-to-day lives.  

How does voice recognition work? 

Voice recognition tools rely on artificial intelligence (AI) to differentiate between speakers. To achieve this identification, AI voice recognition software must first undergo training with an individual’s voice. The technology requires that a person read a statement multiple times, and it records their specific speech patterns. Next, the AI analyzes that statement and the idiosyncrasies of the speakers cadence, tone and other identifying markers. Using a process called “template matching,” the AI can then identify that individual’s voice.  

Voice recognition is very accurate when it comes to identifying individual speakers. Developers have, therefore, found many uses for this technology. 

What is an example of voice recognition?  

Voice recognition products are quickly becoming part of everyday life. For example, Google’s smart home kit allows you to set your devices to begin working before you even get home. You can turn on the lights and heat, unlock your door, and monitor your spaces seamlessly and remotely. 

Speech recognition identifies the words you use. You can search for a video on YouTube without typing or turn on a smart TV without clicking a button. Voice recognition takes it one step further, ensuring that only your voice can unlock your home. Since the technology identifies your specific voice, you can rely on its ability to do so to keep you safe. 

Voice-enabled devices also recognize specific voices within a home. These recognition abilities prevent your kids from using devices to shop without your permission. They also help to differentiate from family members who are scheduling appointments with connected devices. There are a number of popular tools that tap into the useful abilities of voice recognition. There is a good chance that you’re already using some of these regularly. 

Google voice recognition 

Google voice recognition allows users to program their Android phones or tablets to detect their voice. By using “Voice Match,” users can train their devices to recognize their voice and commands. This tool allows users to go hands free and give directions to their phone, such as activating navigation, communicating with friends or family and changing their settings.  

Apple voice recognition 

Like Google, Apple allows individuals to program their phones and tablets to identify their voices. Using an iPhone or iPad, you can go to “settings” and select “Siri and Search,” and turn off and then on the “Listen” option for Siri. The “Set Up” screen for “Hey Siri” will appear and provide prompts for you to speak so that the device can recognize your voice.  

Alexa voice recognition 

Amazon also offers the option to personalize your devices to respond to your voice. Alexa voice recognition, or Alexa Voice ID, lets you program your device to identify you. As a result, Alexa can offer personalized responses, suggestions and updates to individual users.

grey column-shaped Amazon Echo

Automatic Voice Recognition Is Empowering Students 

In addition to its capabilities in the home, voice recognition is empowering universities to aid students with disabilities. Smart classrooms are now implementing advanced technologies like voice-activated academic transcription software
When campuses transcribe their classes, students who are Deaf and hard of hearing gain access to educational opportunities that they couldn’t access previously. AI-based transcription software makes it easy for them to differentiate between when a university professor is speaking and when its a peer speaking or asking a question. As a result, when a student returns to that recording, the transcript can name the different speakers, making it easier to read and follow.  
Voice recognition tools also empower the higher education industry with the ability to use voice dictation systems when students need to submit papers or other written assignments. Whether a student is blind, suffering from an injury or simply doesn’t type well, that individual can try using voice recognition as an alternative way of completing assignments. Leading educators realize that students have different strengths and learning styles, so adding another tool to their studying arsenal can be extremely beneficial.  

How Voice Recognition Tools Improve the Justice System 

When it comes to legal proceedings, such as court hearings and depositions, where many people are involved, recording and transcribing the process is often necessary. The industry is experiencing a shortage of stenographers and therefore turning to voice-activated legal transcription software. 
While AI transcription products help court reporting agencies train the software to recognize industry terms, automatic voice recognition engines can distinguish between the many speakers present in the same room and account for common interruptions. As the technology grows more sophisticated, court reporting agencies are able to leverage software to produce highly accurate transcriptions. 

How Voice Recognition Products Keep Us Safe 

In addition to recognizing a consumer’s specific voice to unlock his door, some banks are now allowing access to accounts via voice recognition instead of passwords. Voices are comprised of countless elements that make them unique. Therefore, it is much easier to hack an account by uncovering someone’s password, and much more challenging to hack a system that uses voice recognition. 

Voice recognition software programs are also supporting law enforcement in the field. When officers are solving crimes, the documentation of everything that happens can make or break a case. The need to stop and jot notes down can be distracting and makes it possible to overlook something important. With voice recognition tools, officers can perform their jobs more efficiently while letting technology complete their transcriptions. Officers can also dictate notes to their devices and convert those notes into useful, searchable transcripts. 
When multiple officers use the same voice dictation system, or when they operate in busy environments with a lot of noise, automatic voice recognition is critical. This tool can help officers keep track of which officer said or did what on the scene. 

man holding his phone in front of his face and speaking

Future Uses of Voice Recognition Technology 

Voice recognition will continue to impact our future. As developers create more voice recognition software programs, we’re likely to see an increase in voice-enabled devices and third-party applications to enhance our usage. 

Voice profiles will also grow more sophisticated. As a result, people will discover more personalized experiences that encourage deeper adoption. Voice ads will become more personalized too. Secure voice commands will also make purchases online easier and safer. It’s possible that voice recognition could eventually become a requirement for payment. As technology identifies voices, their tones, and their contexts more clearly, criminal acts and legal procedures will grow more transparent and higher education will become more personalized and accessible. Voice recognition usage will increase, and as it does, the question will no longer be who uses voice recognition software, but who doesn’t. 

For more information about tools like voice recognition, AI captioning, transcription and other intelligent solutions, reach out to Verbit