Robots say the craziest things

This morning, while hurrying down the concourse at La Guardia Airport, I tried to dictate a text message to my Nexus 4 while wheeling my suitcase behind me. It got the dictation fine, but appended "kdkdkdkdkdkdkdkd" to the message -- this being its interpretation of the sound of my suitcase wheels on the tiles.


  1. If it had only been “dkdkdkdkdkdkdkdk”, it could have been me at school forty years ago imitating a machine gun.

    1. Forty years ago you were expected to do such things. If you did it today, you’d be expelled (and labeled).

  2.  is there a word for dysfunctional *and* adorable.

    im impressed by the voice recognition on the android, though, living in Dublin it gives up very quickly when confronted with Irish place names. But then again Irish humans still haven’t totally agreed how to pronounce some of those so its doing well.

      1. stupid android broke the chalice from the palace now it can’t find the vessel with the pestle and the flagon with the dragon is being shipped via UPS.

  3. This gave me the I’m Living In The Future feeling. Not because Cory was talking to a robot as he walked – I grew up on Science Fiction and always assumed that this would happen eventually (and where’s my flying car, dammit?) The futuristic part is that his suitcase has wheels. When I was little, they didn’t, and if you couldn’t carry your own with your hands you had to hire a man (a porter) to carry it for you. It seems so obvious that they should have wheels that’ it’s hard to remember it had to be invented. (Terry Pratchett’s The Luggage reference goes here.)

  4. When I was a young nerd, I built a speech synthesizer interface for a Commodore 64.  The interface part didn’t work in time for the school science fair, but with DIP switches you could still trigger it.  In addition to phonemes, it had everything needed for a talking clock… but there was a glitch.  It would often say “elevennnnnn-nnnnnn-nnnnnnn-nnnnnnnnnnEIGHT OH.”

    I wish I still had it, now that I’m into glitch music.

  5. Wasn’t it Terry Pratchett who once had a page full of “rrr rrrr rrr” because his cat had been asleep on the microphone, purring?

  6. When the android was reached for comment it added that “…the “i” and “c” letters were not functioning…”

  7. Actually, I think your Nexus did a better job of representing the sound using English letters than most humans would be able to do.

    Now that I’ve seen it spelled out….that’s exactly what wheeled suitcases sound like.

    Good show, little Nexus!  I’d say bravo/a, but I’m not sure which is appropriate.

  8. Android’s speech recognition and dictation features are ‘barely functional’ on my phone, an HTC Thunderbolt. I don’t know whether the problem is my phone or that I am doing something wrong — since I don’t have much luck when I borrow friends’ iphones either, maybe it is just that I have unrealistically high expectations. Boing boing readers, have you found speech recognition quality varies between phones, or are all phones pretty much the same (having similar software)?

    My native accent is the “General American” newscaster English that people from other regions pay big bucks to emulate, so I don’t think the way I speak is the problem.

    1.  There’s accent, and then there’s manner of speech. It’s possible you just manage to confuse the crap out of them. My mother has the same problem – robots find her incomprehensible.

  9. There’s a Three Stooges episode where Larry is using a geiger counter and it goes caclikcaclikcaclik.  Moes asks Larry, “What does the geiger counter say?”.  Larry replies, “caclikcaclikcaclik”.

  10. I have used voice dictation on my Android phone once.   It interpreted “gmail” as “shemale”.  I gave up after that.

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