Voice Search added to Google TV

Thursday, 14 March 2013 17:16pm

A new feature added to Google TV called Voice Search could improve how blind, vision impaired or mobility impaired people interact with the device. While Voice Search has already been released on some Android smartphones, the technology has just been introduced to Google TV, allowing people to use voice prompts to access content.

Google TV is a digital media receiver, similar to Apple TV. It runs on the Android operating system and allows you to stream media from the web to a connected TV. This means you can listen to music, watch videos on YouTube, watch TV shows and movies, download media from Google Play, check your email and surf the web on your TV.

Voice Search is voice recognition software that allows you to use voice or speak search terms to find content on Google TV. Because Google has an open source philosophy, different developers and manufacturers are able to include Google technology in their products as well as create products for Google. Sony and Asus are the first manufacturers to release Google TV with Voice Search.

Sony's NSZ-GS7 Google TV and Asus's Google TV Qube both come with a dual remote control. The dual remote presents two ways to access and navigate content on Google TV. While on one side you can use hand gestures to use the trackpad, on the other you can use the QWERTY keyboard to type. However, a third option and perhaps the one most useful if you’re blind or vision impaired is to use the Voice Search feature through the microphone installed on the remote.

Google's demonstration video shows how Voice Search can be used to look for TV channels, programs and to look up information on the web, similar to how Voice Search can be used on smartphones. This presents an alternative method of finding content on Google TV. For example instead of using buttons on a remote to navigate to a particular channel, you can speak into the microphone on the remote and say "ESPN" to find that channel. Similarly, you can use this feature to search for content on the web.

For those who are mobility impaired or have restricted arm or hand movement, the Voice Search feature can also be useful as it presents an alternative to using buttons on the remote.

Another way to access content on Google TV is through the Android remote app. If you have a separate Android smartphone, you can use the Android remote app to control or activate features on Google TV. This is helpful if you are accustomed to the interface of your current Android smartphone. The Android remote app also allows you to send content from your smartphone to your TV.

The Asus Google TV Qube also features motion sensor technology which can be used when playing games. For example, you can use the remote as a steering wheel when playing car racing games similar to using the controller of a games console.

One thing to note is that Voice Search doesn't announce menu items, unlike the voice recognition software used on Apple TV. Apple TV also has dedicated accessibility features such as the toggle menu that allows you to quickly turn the accessibility menu on and off. However, the inclusion of Voice Search is a step towards providing more accessibility features in future versions of Google TV.

More details on features can be found on the Sony and Asus websites.

Cost

Asus are yet to announce the release date or price of their Google TV Qube in Australia. However Sony's NSZ-GS7 is available in Australia and is currently priced at $299.00.


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