Each of us, at one time or another, has likely come across a device that incorporates voice recognition technology into our daily lives. Most cellphones use voice-activated dialing, and you’ve probably had the pleasure of suffering through an automated phone call where the computerized female voice at the other end wants you to respond with words instead of with the keypad. This is where the future of technology is headed, and Tazti seeks to advance the world a step closer in that direction with free software you can use to control your Internet searches and your computer with just your voice.
What is Tazti?
There are a number of MakeUseOf articles that have covered some of the speech-recognition advancements, such as voice integration into Google’s mobile iPhone by Jimmy, or this very thorough article by Saikat that mentions how you can use Microsoft’s Speech Recognition Engine to make use of voice activated menu commands.
Tazti is essentially a software application that not only opens and closes your applications or performs Internet searches by voice, but it also comes with integrated voice commands for your favorite music applications or social network websites like Facebook and MySpace. And if your not a computer programmer who can program the MS speech recognition engine into Visual Basic apps or into Word and Excel scripts, then Tazti allows you to create custom keyword or keyphrase control routines. And it’s all offered in one comprehensive package for absolutely free.
What Can Tazti Control?
Now, if you’re a gadget freak like me, you’ve probably attempted to use voice recognition software over the last few years. And, like me, you probably threw the thing in the trash from sheer frustration. There’s nothing worse than telling your phone to call Tom, and having your phone call your mom. Screaming “yo fool, waazzzuuup!” at the top of your lungs when your mom is at the other end of the line is not a good thing.
So during this latest foray into the world of speech recognition technology, I didn’t have very high expectations. Needless to say, Tazti changed my mind quickly regarding the current state of this technology.
When you first install and run Tazti, you have to go through the “training” process. The software needs to learn how you say words, or parts of words. To do this, you simply read text, and the software shows you whether or not it understood that particular word by highlighting it. As you read along, the highlighted text follows. It was actually kind of fun.
For the first training session, you read through a ten minute segment on how to use the software. I didn’t want the software to make any mistakes, so I decided to go through a second ten minute training segment by reading an excerpt from War of the Worlds.
Search the Web or Launch Applications
Upon first opening the software, I wasn’t at all impressed by presentation. The software has no pretty bells and whistles, just ten tabs filled with the keywords that you can use.
However, once I started testing the software, I realized that all of the bells and whistles are within the software itself. The first few tabs, as you can see above, have very basic commands and actions.
The controls under each tab are as follows.
- Basic: Control the Tazti software itself
- Stuff: Includes prebuilt commands to open specific websites. For example, “get chili” opens up SkylineChili.com or “get pizza” takes you to Dominos.com
- Places: Allows you to open specific websites by voice, such as “go hotmail,” or “go ebay home”
- Fun: If you’re ever bored, this tab is entertaining just to see what the commands do. Saying “I’m bored,” takes you to the “best webcams on the net.” Saying “kirk and spock,” takes you to Startrek.com
- Custom: Lets you create your own custom commands
- Music: You can control the iTunes application
- Bookmarks: Search through IE, Firefox, or Apple Safari bookmarks
- Search: Perform specific keyword searches on the search engine of your choice
- Social: Integrated control of Facebook or MySpace features
- Options: Customize how Tazti runs on your computer
While I was entertained by the software’s ability to open web pages or launch software, I wasn’t terribly impressed. Even basic programmers can write an application in a few minutes that can do stuff like that. However, the real heart of Tazti’s ability comes from its integrated features.
Integrated Application Control
Tazti designers took a gamble and integrated the software with some of the more popular applications. This could doom the application in time, but at the moment the software that it integrates with is very popular. In particular, Tazti can control Facebook, MySpace, iTunes, and three major web browsers, Firefox, IE and Safari.
The music controls allow you to perform specific functions on iTunes such as playing and pausing music, changing tracks, or performing searches.
For anyone who just wants to control the music player in the background with their voice, while doing other tasks on the computer, this feature is a real luxury.
The bookmarks feature allows you to say “search bookmarks,” and after the beep you say your search word or phrase. Tazti sifts through bookmarks of your browsers and then reports back (in Internet Explorer) a list of all of the results.
You just click on the result you want and go to the website. In this case I searched for “analytics,” (a tough word to understand) and sure enough, Tazti found my Google Analytics bookmark.
Finally, Tazti is well integrated with the two major social networking sites, Facebook and Myspace. Under the “social” tab, you’ll find commands like “login to facebook,” or “go facebook inbox.”
You have to set up Tazti with your ID and Password information, but once you do you can log into any part of your account without having to click a single button.
Other Applications and Websites that You Like
While it’s nice to open applications and websites, or control music and access your Facebook profile with just your voice, everyone has specific websites that they like which won’t be included in the Tazti software. What do you do then? Luckily, Tazti has a built-in tool that allows you to customize new voice commands to open any application or web page that you want.
Without the ability to customize, Tazti would be pretty useless after a while. But this feature lets you incorporate your own interests and daily tasks into the sort of voice commands that you need, not only those that come with the application by default. This one tool is probably the most useful part of the software, because you no longer need to be a programmer to control your computer or to web surf with your voice. All you need to do is configure the new voice command in Tazti, and you’ve created your own customized voice-activated control.
Have you ever used voice-recognition software? What tools or features do you find useful? Share your experiences, positive or negative, in the comments section below.