Putting a human face on the computer
March 25, 1999
INDIAN WELLS, California (CNN) -- Researchers are finding ways to make the interaction between humans and computers less a struggle and more like teamwork.
Their creations could stem the tide of frustrated employees who have trashed keyboards, mice, or more expensive components.
For example, a computer in your car dashboard can help you remember to do errands.
Attendees of IDG Conferences DemoMobile '99, to be held next month in Coronado, California, will get a look at a variety of products, including the talking dashboard that tells you when you need gas or reminds you to stop at the store on the way home.
MGI Software's MaxMedia connects users with a live broadcast, and allows interaction. That's useful for viewers who've ever tried to copy a recipe or an address from a live TV show.
"You can actually just pause it, jot it down, then go ahead and continue," says MGI's Gaetan Jeannot.
Along with the stop-action function, MaxMedia allows zooming and panning of the camera views. It runs on Intel's new Pentium III processor.
Lernout & Hauspie is developing translation software that works by voice. It works best, says L&H's Richard Levine, when you get to know the program before telling it what to do.
"The computer needs to know how you speak," he says. "I have a Boston accent. The computer needs to know not only how I pronounce words, but how I string words together."
But don't expect to have conversations with your computer in the immediate future.
"I think it will be awhile before we have casual conversations like this with our computers," says analyst Chris Shipley, "but I think we're getting there much faster than we might have thought."
One more interactive piece of magic -- developers at Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh are creating programs that would enable computers to detect its user's mood and respond appropriately. That kind of "intuitiveness" could avoid some pretty ugly scenes.
Correspondent Marsha Walton contributed to this report.
IBM's talking browser brings Net to visually impaired
University of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon face analysis
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