Facebook Inc. (FB) Eyes Voice Enabled Social Network: Acquires Wit.ai

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Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) being a social networking giant is coming up with new ideas every day to hold its popularity and brand value in the market. From an introduction to new features to getting new brands on it, Facebook is always on the go. This time, Facebook comes with the voice recognition feature. Facebook bought a startup company called Wit.ai which enables voice recognition and allows people vocally talk to machines (robots, devices etc). This software can translate any voice command to words. For example, if one says “How are you”? the sentence will be automatically typed on the screen.

Nowadays, Facebook is accessed mostly through smartphones. Thus, typing a long sentence on the small smartphone screen is quite a tedious job. Having the voice recognition feature on Facebook will spare people from typing long sentences on the small screen. This, on the other hand, will make communication faster.

Wit.ai joins Facebook

Since, past 18 months, Wit.ai had been working on transformation of human language to machine language. It was basically an attempt to build highly interactive applications which people could talk to. With Facebook acquiring this feature, the status of Facebook is elevated from just being a social networking site. Facebook will become a walking-talking social media network making it more user-friendly.

Different ways in which the voice recognition feature can be used by Facebook

  1. Status and Comments– Statuses on Facebook can be updated without even touching the keypad of the phone or the tab. Voice commands will automatically transcribe the spoken message on the screen. In the very similar manner, comments on friends’ posts can be posted by just uttering the words.
  2. Search– This feature is already used by Google and Apple. Searching for a particular person, page or community on Facebook can become easier. One just has to utter the name one is looking for and the ‘Search’ button on Facebook will start its work.
  3. Check-in– Facebook, nowadays, is mostly used for check-ins by the users. By this feature, people let their friends know where they are, doing what and with whom. This entire process, when done by typing on the small smartphone screen takes a lot of time. With the voice recognition feature, this entire process will require even less than a minute.
  4. Facebook Messenger– Facebook introduced a separate app for people to receive and send personal messages to each other’s inbox. This is also used for online chatting. The voice recognition feature will have a very special and unique role here. The spoken message will be immediately seen by the person on the other side of the chat in a written format. This will also help people in continuing their respective works while chatting with a friend on Messenger.
  5. Secure Log-in– Due to the introduction of the voice recognition feature, logging into Facebook can be made more secure. This will also check hacking of accounts as it is difficult to exactly imitate someone’s voice. A person’s voice can be used to login to his/her account instead of using a password.

Facebook Focus On Mobile

The acquisition of Wit.ai by Facebook once again proved that the online social networking giant is immensely focused on blending two next generation technologies Voice Computing and Smartphone. Facebook is already recording majority of its traction coming from mobile devices; in Q3, 2014 nearly 66% of its revenue came from mobile and little over 1 billion users accessing the logging to the network via mobile devices. However, long-interaction and conversation on small screens is still a challenge for most of the mobile device users. Many of typing apps, such as Fleksy and Swiftkey, are trying to ease the experience of typing on small screens, users are found more comfortable on Desktop/Laptop when it comes to spending time on Facebook. With the acquisition of Wit.ai, Facebook is eyeing to allow its users talk to their phone (via Facebook) and interact with their friends and family on the go without any hassle of typing.

If voice recognition is adopted by all

Facebook wants to bring voice recognition to every device and app. The idea is to enable all the devices and apps to understand and respond to voice controls. Hence, the Facebook owned app Instagram can also be expected to have this feature in future. This will again bring immense popularity to the app. Whatsapp, another app owned by Facebook, already has the voice recording and sending feature where one can record a voice message and send it to someone. But this particular feature provides with the advantage of not typing a single letter and yet being able to convey a message to someone.

Such attempts by the tech companies give us quite a clear picture of the future. A technologically advanced world is waiting for us in the near future. The idea of giving voice controls is not restricted to phones and tabs. We can expect the future where all electronic devices will be operated by human voices, neither remotes required nor buttons. From drones to microwaves, everything will start working with voice commands.


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