By Ramona Eid | January 5, 2017
If your car is connected via Bluetooth to your phone does the application fail to understand you -- no matter how loudly you shout? That by definition is distracted driving. If you continue to shout a series of different commands at it, in a fruitless effort to make it understand, that my friends is the beginning signs of Road Rage.
My car speaker system notified me that I had a text message on my phone. The application asked me, "Do you want to read it or ignore it?" I responded, "Ignore it."
The application asked me the same question again. Thinking that the application could not understand me because I wasn't speaking loudly enough, I shouted the response, "Ignore it!"
Obviously, it was not a volume issue because the application asked me the same question again. This time I shouted louder and slower, "Ignore it!" I can't imagine how I looked to motorists beside me.
The application asked me the same question again.
What's the problem?! Not volume, not rapidity of speech, and I do not have a discernable accent, so there is no speech pattern recognition problem. Suddenly I had an epiphany! The tech industry is overwhelmingly populated with the male of the species. The Programmers and the QA Testers of the application I was trying to use had male voices. Of course the application was never going to understand my female voice.
So, because I am known as QueenOfTheWorkaround I lowered my voice by an octave (or as low as I could humanly get it) to sound more like a man, and shouted, “Ignore it!” And, voila! Problem solved! The application recognized what I was saying and obeyed.
What Is The Lesson Here?
What is the take away from this scenario? How will we ever program the IoT (Internet Of Things) with voice recognition software, if the only voices it will recognize are male voices? One of the visions of the IoT is to have your refrigerator help you make shopping lists. Men will not be the only ones talking to the refrigerator. But will men be the only ones the refrigerator listens to?
Whose to blame for this problem? Isn't that where we always start looking for a solution? Maybe, but maybe that's the wrong question. The real question is, how do we solve this problem? Women and girls must become an integral part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) movement, or nothing will change, and maybe things will become a whole lot worse!