Microsoft patents ‘Silent Voice Input’ for smart devices
As helpful as voice assistants may be, people are hesitant to use them in public spaces for fear of disturbing nearby people or sharing personal information. To assist fans of the features who are still shy about using them, Microsoft patented an invention called “Silent Voice Input” which would allow users to whisper with an inward airflow to vocally communicate with their devices.
One of the most significant issues users have with voice assistants is not their technical limitations, but rather the social implications of speaking out loud to a device in public. In quiet environments, users are afraid to bother surrounding people, and in all types of environments, even in homes as Microsoft claims, users are afraid of diffusing their private information. To reduce these fears, Microsoft patented an idea for an ingressive whisper understanding technology.
This proposed invention provides a quieter method of using voice input technology that aims to protect private information. In short, users would place a device equipped with the voice input feature very close to their mouths (in some cases, just 1mm away) so that a small gap is created between the apparatus and the lips. Once in place, the microphone could theoretically “capture [a] stable utterance signal with a very small voice leakage.”
Microsoft forecasts that such technology could potentially be used in smart watches, TV controllers, smartphones, headsets and even rings.
Though uttering requests with inward flowing breath may take some practice for some, such a method could present a solution for users hesitant to benefit from voice input in public. The patent does not discuss when, if ever, the invention could go into development. JB
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