/ Technology

Do we need speech recognition to stop texting accidents?

Woman texting in a forest

Texting and walking at the same time. Doesn’t sound too hard. Actually, one in ten mobile users have had a mishap doing just that. A proposed solution is speech recognition, but surely common sense is better?

Walking into a lamppost or being run over while texting are apparently common accidents for hospitals these days. As many as one in ten Brits have come a cropper while texting their mates, according to research presented at the British Science Festival.

Tech expert Dr Joanna Lumsden claims that our brains just can’t cope with texting and moving at the same time. Often we’ll slow down, or even grind to a halt, to finish thumb tapping. Two teenage pedestrians are killed every day in London after not noticing traffic, many due to using their mobiles. Dr Lumsden’s solution – don’t text and walk at the same time.

Speech recognition for texting on the move

Which may be easier said than done. I’m not going to lie, I text on the move. But I’ll stop if I’m about to cross the road, and constantly look up to make sure I won’t walk into someone. An issue that won’t affect the pictured woman, who’s all on our lonesome in the woods.

Researchers are looking into creating software that’ll use gestures and speech to text, though there are already apps on Android mobiles and the iPhone that use speech. But in the end, talking to text is still going to be a distracting experience – you’ll be looking down at your phone to make sure everything’s written right.

Don’t update your Facebook status in the car

This move towards voice control lines up with a similar story, where drivers are trying to text or update their Facebook status. OnStar has just announced its development of speech recognition software to let drivers text while they’re on the road.

The question – do people really need to text or update Facebook in the car? Again, even using your voice is going to affect your concentration, and I already have enough vacant updates from my Facebook ‘friends’ without the need for ‘Just knocked over a deer. Lol’ to be added.

Pay attention when you’re walking and texting and don’t update when you’re driving the car. Simple?


Frankly it won’t work – The real problem is most people cannot multi-task at all well – they just think they can – I’ve watched cyclists wander all over the road because they concentrate on another task rather than giving all their attention to riding AND being aware of the traffic surrounding them. I’ve seen walkers fall over because their attention is distracted (and it is far easier to walk than ride.)

I won’t even mention car drivers – many of whom cannot drive properly – even without the distraction of texting. Witness all those that don’t even know what speed they are supposed to be driving at though they are surrounded by Speed Signs..

pickle says:
19 September 2010

In addition to what richards says speech recognition doesn’t work 100% I have tried speech recogntion to help deaf people to understand what is spoken – and it has so many errors that it is unitelligable.

I have to agree with Pickle – I’ve been using speech recognition software for around a decade or more. It is basically useless – except to input a large amount of text – Then it is possible to read through it carefully to correct all of the wrong words – they are not spelling mistakes which are usually highlighted – just mispronunciations. And this is using it in an office with a steady ambient noise level.

Using it accurately in cars? – not really.

Using speech recognition for texting? Is this idea serious? Why not USE THE PHONE! You can even leave a message if they don’t answer…

But you shouldn’t use a phone while driving anyway – it is a distraction –

The majority of texts are simple short one liners and so are the replies, resulting in a conglomeration of asynchronous texts that add up to a far higher price than just a 30 second 2 way synchronous and more efficient communication.

My use of texts, I hate them – only good to leave a message when you know someone has better sense than to answer them when driving, in the Operating Theatre, private consultation etc.

Alan O says:
23 September 2010

This can only work if all the population speak English. Very few immigrants can speak correct English. Then there are the likes of Londoners and the like, who in all honesty, can`t say “people skills”. How software can be developed to distinguish “peepoe ski-uws” from “people skills”, I`ve yet to be convinced. Peepoe is a childs game of hide and seek, ski-uws has no meaning. However, the basic idea is a good one.

hardcourt says:
2 October 2010

im very stupid but i undrstand when text goes wrong eveyone get involved. It gets messy and everyone gets it

I can only add that I use speech recognition on the PC – I will not use a phone in moving car – it is illegal.

However if you take the trouble to train the software properly to recognise your voice it is around 90 to 95% or higher accurate. providing you put the microphone in exactly the same position all the time. I use Viavoice 10 – Excellent for transcribing written text to wordprocessing.. Unlike Alan I speak London English.- I can only suppose it works better with London English,

BBC, Oxbridge and Estuary English?

Received Pronunciation?

eRRRRR no we do not need it,I see people everyday driving while on the phone,texting as they walk,it is these IDIOTS that cause accidents pile ups,and more Death on moterways

soon we will have a phone to wipe our a***s ,,,these are the very same people who all go out for a drink together,then spend the next few days chatting about it on t***bo,,,, oh sorry facebook saying did you see this did you see that,I’m like of course he did you were all there