I stopped by the XM Radio booth this afternoon to take a look at the VoiceBox implementation of XM Voice Command. The demo was in a nice white Lexus SUV, and there was a pretty big line of attendees waiting to take a look at all the XM Xtras in the truck.

After about 20 minutes of waiting ... I got in.

The demoer saved the VoiceBox demo until the end of all the Xtras he demoed, saving the best for last. In the demo he used conversational language to do a few scenarios. His main point was that the user doesn't have to learn any of the command language. They can just use their own language and get the features to work.

That's excellent, because that's one of the key problems we heard from users when we were researching what we needed to do with Speech Recognition in Vista.

He then started in with the demo...

Demoer: "What is the weather like in Seattle?"
System: Told us what the weather was like

Demoer: "How about Boston?"
System: Knew that the demoer was talking about weather, and thus told us what the weather was like in Boston.

Demoer: "What is the stock price of XM Radio?"
System: Looked up the stock price, and told us

Demoer: "How about Microsoft?"
System: Looked up the stock price, and told us

Demoer: "I'd like to listen to Fred"
System: "You're already listening to Fred"

Demoer: "Oh yeah ... Listen to Ethel"
System: Switched to Ethel and told us that's what it was doing.

RobCh:  "Hey, ask it 'Switch to hits'..."
Demoer: "Switch to hits"
System: Switched to Hits and told us that's what it was doing.

All-in-all, it's a great scenario. I really liked how they added the concept of context, as in the "How about Microsoft" and the system knew that the demoer was talking about stock prices. I think the conversational aspect is also a good way to go in the car for what they're trying to achieve. It does make it easier for the user to not have to remember specific commands.

I'm excited to see them continue their work with XM, and I'd love to see a much more in depth demonstration. I'd really like to play with it myself.