Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, having hung up his meth making gloves is now the star of Microsoft’s latest marketing move. The advert sees the actor, slumped on the sofa demonstrating voice control on his shiny new Xbox One.
“Xbox, on” he casually drawls as the console seamlessly adheres to his every word.
“Xbox, snap TV,” he continues and again the Xbox complies, splitting the screen allowing Aaron to watch his favourite show and play Titanfall simultaneously . Who said men couldn’t multi-task?
With reports suggesting that his utterances are turning on Xboxes all over the country in some sort of computer uprising, its hard to determine if this is the next step in technological advancement or just a mere gimmick.
Voice control has always been a holy grail for technology boffins; dreaming of an AI that is as responsive as something along the lines of Tony Stark’s JARVIS system. Voice command that can respond to anything asked of it, is capable of irony and banter and can fix your Iron Man suit and next meeting simultaneously. Realistically though, voice control is less Iron Man and more Wicker Man; the technology which is still in the infancy stages of its life.
Although not an owner of an Xbox One, if Siri and other voice control systems are anything to go by, I can imagine it isn’t quite as seamless as is portrayed:
“Call home… Call home… CALLLLL HOOOOMEEE”
Still, nothing happens; it’s the equivalent of a dog tilting its head when it doesn’t know what ‘sit’ means. And the same thing is reported to be the case for the space age Xbox One. Unless you speak in a Standard ‘Android Responsive’ English, you might as well be talking to a brick wall.
Yes, having a responsive AI at your command does sound like the technological next step (and a bit like the plot to I-Robot) but that being said, voice control isn’t really necessary. For now at least.
Compare these 2 scenarios:
1 – You are walking down the street with your friend chatting about last night’s match. Looking for a pub you grab your phone and search the web manually while still discussing that diabolical refereeing decision. The web gives you some options and you put your phone away without any disruption to the conversation.
2 – You are walking down the street with your friend chatting about last night’s match. Looking for a pub you grab your phone, stop mid conversation and ask Siri or any other voice control system to locate the nearest pub. The first time you ask, a car drives past and Siri mishears you. You ask again and still nothing. By this point, you have reached the end of the street (and your patience) and have forgotten what you and your friend were talking about. Instead of continuing, you give up and go home, deflated with the knowledge that in a world where technology is king, you can’t even ask your stupid phone to find a stupid pub.
A bleak future looms and I don’t think we’re ready to take that plunge into a ‘conversationless’ voice command driven dystopian world.
Controllers and touch screens achieve the same result for a fraction of the effort. For now at least, I’ll stick with my remote control and Sony Dualshock 4.