Yesterday I had the day off. I went to the Woodland park Zoo with my son, Nicholas, with his summer camp. It was a blast. There was a bit of downtime around lunchtime, so I thought I'd check out the news. I was shocked when I read this headline on my Windows Mobile phone: Speech recognition: A work in progress via CNET News.com.

It goes something like this:

July 27, 2006 8:34 AM PDT

REDMOND, Wash. -- Microsoft attempted to show financial analysts on Thursday that speech recognition was finally ready for prime time.

However, the demo of Windows Vista's speech abilities was more representative of the challenges that remain in trying to get software to make sense out of human speech.

[...]

Things went from bad to worse as the software got few of his words and commands correct. The closest it came was recognizing "I hope you like the DVD" as "I hope you let the DVD."

The crowd finally did make some noise, breaking into snickers as the demo progressed.

"I'm glad you are enjoying this," Boettcher said.

Sigh ... As Richard pointed out in his blog entry yesterday, there are some challenges giving Speech Recognition demos sometimes.

This specific problem looks like it was likely caused by a serious audio gain bug in the specific build that Shanen was using for the FAM (Financial Analysts Meeting) demo. I'm actually going to be taking a look at the machine personally this morning to see if that's what it was or if it was something else. No matter what it was, we'll address it before we ship in one way or another.

The results Shanen got during the demo were not at all similar to the results he was getting earlier yesterday morning, so there's certainly something else going on. If it always performed this poorly, we wouldn't ship it! :-)

I consistently get 99% accuracy with the Windows Vista Speech Recognition system, every day. I know a lot of other people here at work that use it regularly get similar results (to mine -- not Shanen's!).