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Voice Activated MP3 player 236

g0dsp33d writes "A US company is working on a voice controlled MP3 player for applications like cars where touch control is not as feasible. Considering technology like radar breaking and AI steering for robots, it reminds me of the possibility for a real life version of the car from Night Rider, KITT. Minus the cool jump effects, of course."
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Voice Activated MP3 player

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:24AM (#11416474)
    "Stop, what's that sound." It'll shut off right after it starts.
  • by drivinghighway61 ( 812488 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:25AM (#11416480)
    I'll actually be avoiding this, as I don't want anyone else to hear that I'm listening to Britney Spears.


    Damn it!
  • by Vietomatic ( 520138 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:26AM (#11416503)
    ...and ITT was in Night Rider.
  • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:27AM (#11416507) Journal
    How much training is required to operate this thing reliably? With voice training, you can get any piece of software to ignore non-operator commands.

    But I'm loath to sit out in the cold just to program the stupid thing in my sleigh.

    How big a deal is it to take a fraction of a second to change the song anyway? We do it all the time with the radio, A/C, and speedometer already.
  • Scenario (Score:5, Funny)

    by k4_pacific ( 736911 ) <{k4_pacific} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:27AM (#11416508) Homepage Journal
    I'm sitting in a crowded place, listening to the White Album on my new voice activated MP3 player.

    Me (quietly): Play Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey.

    MP3 player: Please speak louder.

    Me: Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey.

    MP3 player: Please speak louder.

    Me (shouting): Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey!!!

    Everyone turns and looks at me. I make a mad dash for the exit.
  • My two cents... (Score:3, Informative)

    by odano ( 735445 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:27AM (#11416509)
    I dont find using my radio while driving to really be that difficult. I don't even have to look at it to change CD, tracks or alter the volume.

    It seems to me that if the system was not perfect, IE it has common errors and played the wrong songs, that would make me more annoyed than the prospect of having to reach down to change something.

    I guess you can call me crazy, but I still like adjusting dials and getting some feedback when I change the volume or change tracks, and i'm not sure I would like a voice activated system.
    • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by }InFuZeD{ ( 52430 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @01:17AM (#11416759) Homepage
      You seem to be missing the point.

      If your mp3 player has 3000 songs, and you're looking for one... you're gonna be doing quite a few clicks on that radio to get to it.

      The voice navigation will work a bit faster. Make that a lot faster.
      • If they try to recognize only a few preset commands (like "next song") it may actually work, but won't help a lot. If they try to recognize general vocabulary with lots of proper nouns, like song titles, it definitely will not work.
      • Yes, but the software/hardware isn't quite ready for this. Car navigation and such works well with voice prompts because it has a very limited vocabulary it understands.

        Try and tell your computer to find something like these artists: Balligomingo, Fischerspooner, Hoobastank, Kraftwerk, etc.

        Heck, I own a Kenwood Keg (aka Phatbox) - it uses voice prompts to tell me what I'm hearing. It can't pronounce Bjork correctly, what makes you think it would understand me saying Bjork to it? The Phatbox uses AT
        • Re:My two cents... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pchan- ( 118053 )
          I have a phatbox [phatnoise.com] too (Nissan version). When you tell people it uses voice navigation, they automatically assume that you talk to it. But the way it talks to you is really ingenius. You don't need to look down to find the controls, because you already know where they are, and you don't need to read the display, because you hear the titles. Sure, pronounciation is not perfect, but I can figure out what it's saying, and would rather have that than be screaming "B-jork" (*you* you have to be mis-pronouncing

      • If your mp3 player has 3000 songs, and you're looking for one... you're gonna be doing quite a few clicks on that radio to get to it.

        Not if you organize your music. Maybe people have a lot of one-hit wonder songs or something, but I know the artist, and the album of a song, which makes finding a song easy, regardless of how many I have (and I have over 3000).

        But *most* people like to scan through music. They like flipping through their CD collection, looking for something they hadn't heard in a while.
      • Well, I have 14,000 songs on my in car mp3 player and with the intelligent search system (like autocomplete on mobile phones) on the remote, it typically takes 4 or 5 clicks to find the right song. And with the nice raised buttons on the remote, I don't even need to look at it.

        But voice activation would have cool geek factor!
      • No it does not.

        I have used voice navigation, and when the song is playing the system will not hear you. I had the Clarion Autopc, it had voice recognition for deck control, volume, track control, etc...

        when you were playing ANYTHING at a volume above low background music you no longer could command it without pressing an attention button that mute's the music so it can hear you.

        so if anyone thinks that the mp3 player will be useable above background music levels, then they are certianly silly.

  • by mikeb39 ( 670045 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:28AM (#11416517) Homepage
    It's my biggest gripe with the iPod that nobodys built a voice activated accessory yet. When I'm drunk off my rocker and want to select a particular song, it takes forever. Overscroll, scroll back, overscroll, scroll back, etc. Very frustration. (I suppose it would also be useful when you've been running or just naturally get sweaty hands, as it's near impossible to use the touch wheel with moist fingers).

    Okay, so an interface like that with the iPod is probably not possible, how hard could it be to introduce it on new iPods? Just say a artist, song name or album and get zipped right to it!
    • by Propagandhi ( 570791 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:35AM (#11416560) Journal
      I doubt the little CPU in the iPod is robust enough to provide any kind of voice recognition support. Not to mention those little mic accessories aren't exactly Hi-Fi, they're just unpowered microphones IIRC. Besides, this won't be the smallest software sweet, and I'm definitely not willing to give up a couple hundered mb's of space on my DAP just to look like a fool yelling at it belligerently...

      The way I see it one of two things needs to happen before this becomes truely feasible:

      1) Voice recognition software needs to become much more effiecient.


      2) The low power\ultra compact CPU's in DAP's need get significantly more powerful..
    • When I'm drunk off my rocker and want to select a particular song, it takes forever.

      And it will be able to recognize slurred drunken speech?

      it's near impossible to use the touch wheel with moist fingers).

      Must resist. Too easy. Must resist.

    • When you're drunk off of your rocker, the mp3 player will just explode trying to figure out what your drunk ass is saying to it.

      "Uhhh plesh play me theeee.. uhhhhhh... y'now..*hic* ..that one song..geez..." *splat*

    • When I'm drunk off my rocker and want to select a particular song, it takes forever.

      Not exactly the optimum environment for voice activation though, is it...

      "I mish jenny! I loved her! MP3 player, play me our [belch] song."

      "Sorry, Our Earl Song is not recognized"

      "MP3 player, play... play... I will alwaysh... alwaysh... always looove [indistinct sobbing] you."

      "Sorry, I Will Awake Awake Always Loofah Uh-Huh Uh-Huh You is not recognized."

      "Play I will alwaysh love you!"

      "You're drunk, aren't you."

  • Hey now, let's not write off those cool Jump Effects too soon, okay?
  • it reminds me of the possibility for a real life version of the car from Night Rider, KITT

    It's Knight Rider, and KITT stands for Knight Industries Two Thousand.

    I don't want my car to talk to me. I want it to run on water

    Or at least stop breaking and get 100 mpg.

    Forget the talking.
  • This kind of tech is a little too CPU intensive for a normal Digital Audio Player CPU (some of them can't even keep up with Vorbis) so I don't think there's much of a chance this will make it into any kind of portable player, which is a pity. There are plenty of situations (at the gym, biking, canoeing) in which this could be useful.. provided it works, of course.

    Not a big loss, I guess, voice recognition software has always been a little sketchy (although I'm sure it's improved since my first experiences
  • Now the kiddies will be able to fight what music to listen to in the car. This will surely divert their parents' attention from driving. This is just like hooking up a clapper ("clap-on, clap-off" - a device that turns on/off lights when it detects a clap) to the lights of an auditorium full of people during a concert.
  • by Elminst ( 53259 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:31AM (#11416538) Homepage
    They have a voice activated car with one of these in it....

    Telling it to "Back up" while you're cruising at highway speeds would end up with your transmission in the middle of the road and you looking at the bottom of a ditch!! ;)
  • I just don't think this is such a good idea. It would be great for cell phones (dial such and such), but for MP3 Players, I don't think that the technology is there, nor do I believe that anyone would want to use it. Imagine trying to play a song called "Sk8r Boi" or something similiar...

    On top of that, why not just use steering wheel mounted paddle controllers? They keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, and are very easy to access..
    • Re:Nah.. (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Imagine trying to play a song called "Sk8r Boi" or something similiar...

      That's not a bug, it's a feature.
    • Lots of newer cars already have buttons on the steering wheel that control the audio.
  • W00t (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:32AM (#11416548)
    This will now allow me to fulfill my David hasslehoff fantasy!

    -Kitt, find me some women!

    -I'm sorry, I can't do that Dave.

    • by Riktov ( 632 )
      "my David Hasseloff fantasy" -- whether you're male or female, that sounds creepy.
    • Also, wasn't the show called "Knight Rider", not "Night Rider?" 'cause his name was Michael Knight. Remember? ... I'm such a geek.
  • clapper syndrome (Score:4, Interesting)

    by evilmousse ( 798341 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:34AM (#11416552) Journal

    will it suffer from clapper syndrom, like when you have a stereo plugged into the clapper and the song includes clapping?

    idunno what the control words would be, but i bet there's enough songs with the word "louder" in it to make it suck.
    • Do you realize how easy this is to fix? Just cancel the stereo out of the mike feed before processing for commands. It's called echo cancelling, and it's a common part of any telephone system.
      • it isn't as easy as you make out. The accoustics of a car will vary wildly depending on who's sitting in there and how they're sitting. Someone reclining in their seat will change things dramatically. Opening a window or the sun roof will too.

        You know those conference call speakerphone things that send out a ping when you turn them on? They are mapping the accoustic characteristics in terms of echo of the room to the normal frequencies you'll find in a conversation. If you move it by more than a small ammo
        • Phone lines also ring horribly, especially on long-haul calls and a digital hybrid doesn't always work right, and sometimes you hear the echo. But most of the time you don't. Cancelling out the room echo is only slightly different from cancelling out the line echo.

          And you don't necessarily need to ping the room. If you have enough computing power, you can compute self-correlation of the audio stream and find the echos in it without pinging. You'd really want that in a car, otherwise you'd have to keep
    • Except of course, that in order to hear your commands in the car, it will have to cancel out the music it's playing.
    • no because you use a simple command word first.

      player louder.
      player next.
      player random.
      player quieter..... player quieter.... PLAYER QUIETER!


  • by dj42 ( 765300 ) * on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:36AM (#11416564) Journal
    Are there a bunch of armless drivers I'm not aware of? If you're too incompetent to take your hand off the wheel and adjust your music track, you probably shouldn't be driving anyway. Or allowed to own a car.
  • by mobiux ( 118006 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:44AM (#11416604)
    My cell phone can dial things now.

    My guess is that the player isn't going to sort your music for you, you will need to put it in the genre you want.

    Unless it's something really mind blowing, like it tells me what i want to hear next, and is actually correct, i am unimpressed.
  • by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @12:44AM (#11416605) Homepage
    If you're interested in puting a computer in your car and this article interests you, definately check out the following site:

    http://www.mp3car.com [mp3car.com]

    A lot of us hobbyists have done a lot of research and put a lot of computers in cars, with fabrication, touchscreens, DC-DC power supplies, and more.

  • I'm suprised Apple didn't do this...

    or Griffin, or some other accessory company.
  • ...it was Knight Rider.

    You just made me feel incredibly old. Damn you, you insensitive clod!

    But back on topic....

    Considering how complex the car of the Future!® is going to be, with navigation systems and such, keeping the driver's eyes on the road is going to be a priority. The less a driver has to futz around with his eyes off the road, even for a moment, and one hand off the steering wheel, the better.

    My question is how one goes about filtering the user's voice through the sound of the music.
  • Hrmm couldn't this be used somewhat similar to a turing machine, except with audio cues instead of shapes? If you can voice controll playlist orders, and you have mp3's with commands such as "add moveup3.mp3 to bottom of list remove moveup.mp3"(assuming this command will remove first instance of moveup.mp3) moveup.mp3 of course is a audio sequence that moves the last song up one position in the playlist. With a complex sequence of such commands, couldn't you implement a turing-like rules system in audio?
    • Sure could, lots of systems are turing complete - I've seen a universal turing machine implemented within Conway's Game of Life. It could do And, Or, and Not and that's all you need.

      Also, a lot of seemingly different mathematical systems are interrelated or can be transformed into each other. Look here [mit.edu] to see how computation can be expressed within four other ontological frameworks.

      Anyway, don't quote me on the above ( :^) this is /. after all) but I know for a fact that what your saying is a valid imp
  • asshole (Score:5, Funny)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Thursday January 20, 2005 @01:09AM (#11416728) Homepage
    Reminds me of the joke that goes something like this:

    • A lady goes to a car dealer to get a fancy car. The salesman shows her a model with a voice activated radio. He says "classical", and a classical station comes on. He says "rock" and a rock station comes on. Impressed, the lady decides to take it for a test drive. As she is pulling out of the lot, a car cuts her off and she yells "asshole" .... and Rush Limbaugh comes on.
    • Damn, I wanted to tell that joke! But in the version I knew, the lady yells "SHIT", and what comes on can be: Britney Spears / Spice Girls / Backstreet Boys / Fugees / Sepultura / Nelly (not to be confused with Nelly Furtado) / Black Eyed Peas / everyone with bling-blings / pretty much anything that hit big on MTV after the mid-90s.
      • How did Sepultura make that list? They are NOTHING like the other bands you named, and 98% of the Slashdot crowd has probably never heard of them.

        That's just random.

        p.s. I was a big Sepultura fan in high school back in 90-94.
        • Because Sepultura, in my not-too-humble opinion, is the CRAPPIEST rock band out there - their "music" is little more than grunts and noises. It's not random, depends on the audience to whom you tell this joke.

          Me, I'm much more into Iron Maiden, Angra, Queen, Helloween, Scorpions... you know, REAL music. :P
  • Microsoft Voice Command provides a similar service for pocket pcs, through its integration with windows media player (for the pocket pc). I played with it, and it was novel for about a week, and then I realized that it was really not that difficult just to push one of the hard buttons, and I haven't used it much since. Though I must say I did attract some strange looks when I was shouting at my PPC.
  • Mac OS X already has voice recognition. Use a bit of Applescript, and with iTunes, you're off to the races..

  • Reminds me of a Bash quote...

    i got new car radio the other day, its pretty cool. you shout soul and it plays soul, you shout rock and it plays rock. the other day some kids ran past my car and i yelled "FUCKING KIDS" and it played michael jackson.

  • There is no facet of life couldn't be enhanced with a talking car.
  • I'd rather have everything displayed within an integrated HUD that is projected onto the windshield (I know this has been done just can't remember the make and model of the car) and then add eye tracking components. Want to go to the next track? Glance at the next track button on the HUD. That's a lot better than trying to get voice recognition software to operate in a very noisy environment (at least the noise would be the music itself and at worse include external road noises).
    And what if the music ha
  • I don't know just how sophisticated technology in these things would be, but theoretically it shouldn't be too difficult to keep an audio system from responding to commands issued by the audio file. Voice recognition is done by analyzing the signal from audio, a process known as digital signal processing. When the signal matches something the system knows to look for, the programmed response is called.

    A major problem with voice recognition technology is when the technology cannot differentiate the speaker
  • Just put the new Bose suspension system on the car if you want it to jump. Check out the last paragraph on page four of this article [popsci.com] for a description.
    • pity their "hifi" is a better demonstration as to what marketting will do for people believing they have "quality" product for inflated prices.

      Go to any decent discussion of hifi and mention bose and stand back lest you are overwhelmed by all the unfavourable comparisons.

      I did an audition of one of their systems and was amazed at how muddy and poor it sounded. And incredulous that it sold at all. If only people knew what similar money could buy at other companies. If only...
  • System 7.5 came with a feature called Speakable Items.

    Basically, you'd have a folder buried in your System Folder called Speakable Items, and anything you put it in would be recognized when you spoke it. Activation was just as if you double clicked the file.

    For example, there was a file in there called "Close this window" which was just an applescript telling the frontmost application to close the active window. There was also other stuff like little scripts which involve you in an interactive knock knock j

    • >Of course once something was playing it was impossible to stop or change tracks due to the music interfering with the speech recognition...

      that's when you use your bluetooth phone to make changes
  • "Your door is ajar."
    "Your taste in music is banal."
    "RIAA validation code not found."
    "Your door is closed and locked."
    "Ingition disabled."
    "RIAA lawyers and approprite law enforcement has been notifed."
    "Please stand-by."
  • In the car, jogging, etc...

    Combined with a bit of fuzzy logic, this might be a great addition. Instead of hitting a bunch of little buttons, one could just say:

    "Rush shuffle volume 9 play" and get your named tracks played in shuffle order at a high volume with very little effort compared to all the little buttons necessary to get this done.

    Of course, this will probably consume enough CPU power to sharply reduce battery life... Some bozo will add a damn button to turn on the voice function to compensate
  • You meant Knight Rider with the K!
  • The player would be vulnerable to a mp3-based DoS-attack: Kelly Osbourne shouts: "Shut up !" and the player shuts down...
  • This reads more like a press release of an "amazing new product" that they haven't actually built yet than some concrete information. If mobile phones have voice control, and mobile phones can play MP3s, how is "a voice controlled MP3 player" suddenly an amazing new advance?

    Of course you could just go out and buy one now [phatnoise.com] if you actually wanted one for your car. There's even a funky flash demo.
  • by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @05:27AM (#11417678) Journal
    Mercedes-Benz (or rather, Daimler-Chrysler), for example, has been shipping an electronics system, LINGUATRONIC [geocities.com] COMAND [geocities.com] (for Cockpit Management and Navigation), for at least three years that is voice controlled. Voice recognition controls the radio, the CD, the integrated Motorola telephone. A 30-word vocabulary doesn't sound like much, but it gets the job done.

    It's activated by a steering wheel stalk and is somewhat modal (but an MP3 player wouldn't have as many modes in the first place), but the hard part is all done by voice recognition.

    I'm pretty sure other car manufacturers are shipping similar systems by now.
    • This company is making a system that can catalog the ID's in music files, and allow you to ask for songs based on genre, title, artist, etc.

      While voice recognition has existed for awhile, this is not the same as the system you mentioned. Sure, it's not a big break away in technology, but who said it was.
  • ... my radar breaks.

    Considering technology like radar breaking

    Although it would be handy to have a radar controlled system to brake the car to slow it down if it detected a potential collision.

    Am I being nitpicky? I don't think so - keep in mind this wasn't posted by some random /. reader, it was posted by someone purporting to hold the title 'editor' - one of the primary duties of such a position is not only to not *make* mistakes (including common spelling errors), but to actually catch and correct

    • There are computer based Cruise control systems that are adaptive to slower traffic. There is a Lexus and Mercedes system like that now (I think.) that uses a radar to detect a car in the lane ahead of you and will reduce your speed and keep you back a set number of feet until they change lanes, at which time it will resume your set cruise control speed.
      • Er, yes, I am aware of the existence of radar activated brake systems, but what does that have to do with my post, which was attempting to point out the significant change of meaning that occurs if one uses 'break' where one probably means to use 'brake'...

        Selected definitions for 'break' (v):

        1. To cause to separate into pieces suddenly or violently; smash.
        2. To divide into pieces, as by bending or cutting: break crackers for a baby.

        Selected definitions for 'brake' (n):

        1. A device for slow
  • I got my MXP100 off ebay for 40USD

    It takes CF and accepts voice commands.

  • "Stereo"

    "Stereo Ready"

    "Playlist 'Mellow'"

    "Activating playlist 'Mello'"

    time passess....


    "Stereo Ready"

    Car comes out of nowhere from the side, crossing just in front of driver and goes into a tree on the side of the road - accident avoided by inches.


    "Activating playlist 'Boy Bands'. No need to yell."
  • What's much simpler to implement, possibly more practical, and almost as nice is speaking mp3 players so you can operate it without looking at the screen. Rockbox [rockbox.org] firmware supports this to some extent.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.