ABOUT ROBOTICS: Robots are made of roughly the same components as human beings: a body structure with moveable joints; a muscle system outfitted with motors and actuators to move that body structure; a sensory system to collect information from the surrounding environment; a power source to activate the body; and a computer "brain" system to process sensory information and tell the muscles what to do. Robots are manmade machines intended to replicate human and animal behavior. Roboticists can combine these basic elements with other technological innovations to create some very complex robotic systems. There are plenty of robots doing manual work on factory assembly lines, but while those machines can manipulate objects, they do the same thing, along the same path, every time. Other robots are designed to play soccer, or to drive vehicles without human input.
HOW DOES VOICE RECOGNITION WORK? One kind of voice recognition is called template matching. It starts when you read a prepared script to the software in your home computer. The software makes a map of the frequencies you use to speak each sound, and associates those maps with letters and letter combinations. Later, when you begin to dictate, the computer recognizes those sounds and brings up the appropriate characters on the screen. Sometimes software may have trouble identifying whether you meant "here" or hear." Another -- the kind you'll encounter if you get an automated response system which asks you to speak your answers -- is called feature matching. In this case, the software looks for common patterns that are present in many types of voices. It analyzes the words you speak before it tries to match the words with the patterns it already knows. Because voices can vary so much in accents, and voices can be deep, high, loud or soft, this type of pattern matching is restricted to fewer words.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA and the Optical Society of America contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.