Google Shows Off Voice Recognition by Letting You Title Silent Film Clips

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
March 19 2013 6:19 PM

Google Shows Off Voice Recognition by Letting You Title Silent Film Clips

144949299
Can you hear me now, Google?

Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Unless you’re talking to someone on Skype, most of us prefer to interact with our computers by typing, not speaking out loud. But Google has been working hard on voice recognition, as demonstrated by the recent roll-out of the Web Speech API for Chrome. To demonstrate just how well it works, they’ve released a neat little tool that lets you add your voice to classic silent-film clips.

Just open up Chrome (yes, it must be Chrome) and head over to PeanutGalleryFilms.com. There, you can select a black-and-white segment. As it plays, any words you vocalize will appear as old-timey titles.

Advertisement

The voice recognition isn’t yet perfect; as the Peanut Gallery “about” page admits, you can’t use proper nouns, and if you want punctuation, you have to say “comma” or “question mark” aloud. (I tested this out with the 1902 film A Trip to the Moon. As actors ventured out of their spacecraft and onto the surface of the moon, I said, “There’s Elon Musk.” Google rendered that as “There’s a long mask.”)

But all pickiness aside, it’s a fun tool that could serve Google well. Responses might help the company refine its voice recognition. Perhaps it will also help those who use neither Siri nor Google Voice Search become comfortable speaking aloud to a machine. Both will be particularly important as Google comes closer to releasing Glass—as my colleague Will Oremus points out, it appears that Glass will be controlled in large part by speech.

Watch a demonstration of the Peanut Gallery below.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.