Speech recognition, also known as automatic speech recognition (ASR), computer speech recognition, or speech-to-text, is a capability that enables a program to process human speech into a written format.
It is often confused with voice recognition, but speech recognition focuses on the translation of speech from a verbal format to a text one whereas voice recognition just seeks to identify an individual user’s voice.
Natural language processing (NLP)
Natural language processing (NLP) refers to the branch of AI that gives computers the ability to understand text and spoken words in much the same way human beings can.
NLP combines computational linguistics with statistical, machine learning (ML), and deep learning models. Together, these technologies enable computers to process human language in the form of text or voice data and to ‘understand’ its full meaning, complete with the speaker or writer’s intent and sentiment.
NLP can translate text from one language to another, respond to spoken commands, and summarise large volumes of text rapidly—even in real-time. It is very likely that you’ve interacted with NLP in the form of voice-operated GPS systems, digital assistants, speech-to-text dictation software, customer service chatbots, and other consumer conveniences.
Uses of speech recognition
Speech technology has been deployed in digital personal assistants, smart speakers, smart homes, and a wide range of other products. The technology allows us to perform a variety of voice-activated tasks.
Apple’s Siri and Google’s Alexa use AI-powered speech recognition to provide voice or text support whereas voice-to-text applications like Google Dictate transcribe your dictated words to text. Typing with your voice allows you to speak emails and documents into existence by hitting the microphone option on your device’s keyboard.
Voice search is the most common use of this technology. In 2021, it’s believed that 5 billion people will use voice-activated search and assistants around the world, a number that could rise to 6.4 billion in 2022.