Mac speech recognition software: I just had a fun interaction with my iMac that went a little like this:
Al is standing in kitchen, peeling an avocado. It's a little quiet, so he says, "Computer, play the movie Juno."
The computer says something snarky like "Yes, master" (or in Alaska, "You betcha"). In a few moments the movie begins playing.
The crazy thing is how easy this is with the software available today. I barely know what I'm doing, but I got this working pretty fast (see my reference links below), so I have to think there are some really sophisticated things going on in the labs of major corporations.
Of course at this point you might need to be able to say things like 'Stop', 'Start', 'Increase volume', 'Decrease volume', etc., and this is where things get more complicated. There seem to be at least three major options here.
Option 1 is to leave your speech recognition server running all the time, but that may eat up your CPUs, as the server is always waiting for you to say the next thing. You will also have a hard time talking to your computer when any sort of noise is playing, including a movie, music, or radio station.
An alternative to this is to have a piece of hardware that you use to turn the speech recognition server off and then on again. This is a little cumbersome, especially when you're in the middle of peeling an avocado, but this actually seems like a major option. This hardware may be a magic ring, a wristwatch, or a device like an iPhone, iPod, or iPad that is configured to work with your Mac (or Windows) computer.
(Earlier today as I was thinking about this I thought about the need to "Call your computer", which should be just like calling a friend, but instantaneous.)
The other alternative is to have a device local to you that you speak to, in essence a "local microphone". In this scenario, you say "Computer, play the movie Juno", and this small device that is always local to you passes that command on to your computer, and your movie starts. After that, you can continue to issue voice commands to your local microphone, which should work much, much better than trying to talk to your computer while it's already playing Juno.
Well, I'm pretty tired right now, but that's a brief summary of what's been rumbling around in my brain today. Before I go, here is a brief list of related articles: