Voice Activated Browser

New Internet Browser Is Voice Operated

Web surfers may be able to talk to their computers one day using a browser announced Tuesday by Opera Software.

The new browser incorporates IBM’s ViaVoice technology, enabling the computer to ask what the user wants and “listen” to the request.

“Hi. I am your browser. What can I do for you?” asked a laptop with the demonstration versions of the browser.

The message can be personalized, such as greeting users by name. The computer learns to recognize users’ voices, accents and inflections by having them read a list of words into a microphone.

Opera declined to give a launch date.

“Voice is the most natural and effective way we communicate,” said Christen Krogh, head of Opera’s software development. “In the years to come, it will greatly facilitate how we interact with technology.”

I’ve never understood the fascination with voice-operated computers. I don’t want my browser talking to me; that’d be even more annoying than pop-up ads. Nor do I want to dictate to my word processor. I’d feel like an idiot. Not to mention how bad it would be in an office environment, let alone a library, coffee house, or other public setting that makes computers available. And you think people yapping into their cell phones is annoying.

FILED UNDER: Environment, Science & Technology, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Zygote says:

    Hey, if it’s good enough for Star Trek, it’s good enough for me. While it may be annoying at the workplace or in public, it would be nice at home.
    Walk into the office, tell the computer to turn on the lights, load the news tabs and the latest RSS feeds from the sphere while I go heat up some Pop Tarts and get some milk.
    Come back, sit down and commence reading…
    Damn, that sounds nice.

  2. James Joyner says:

    True. It’s positively arduous now: Push the button to turn the computer on. Go downstairs to make coffee and feed the cats. Return upstairs to find the computer on and the email checked. Click mouse on the links toolbar and open my blog.

    After all that, I’m ready for a nap!

  3. Kate says:

    A friend who had a car that told you “The door is ajar” every time you opened one, cured me of any desire for voice operated anything.

    My computer doens’t even have a sound card. It will make the occassonal little “ping” noise to let me know of arriving mail. Enough for me.

  4. Zygote says:

    I, for one, look forward to the day that my computer can also feed my cats.
    Taking care of the litter box would also be a nice plus.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Well, I’m with you on the litter box. Although I’d prefer that the computer not get all chatty about it.

  6. Although it has no appeal to me at all…I’m sure that there are many handicapped users who might find this type of setup very helpful.

    Does it read the page content to you as well? That would be cool, unless it started with the sidebar first. I would not be able to stand my computer reading me the entire OTB blogroll. That would take at least 15 minutes.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Heh. My blogroll isn’t particularly long. Now, the reciproll….