Microsoft files patent for tech that replaces voice commands with whispers, but why?

Voice assistants are great when I’m in the car or all by myself in a relatively quiet environment. The tech becomes clumsy when things get a bit noisy or when I’m in a crowded area. It’s clumsy because the system won’t be able to recognise my commands properly and other people will know what I’m doing with my phone.

Microsoft thinks that this is big enough of a problem that it has filed a patent for a solution. They call it “Silent Voice Input” but instead of talking to your phone, you whisper into it though it’s not actually whispering but rather saying words softly as you inhale. What?

So, when you talk – or whisper – you exhale but for Microsoft’s “Silent Voice Input” to work, you have to inhale while you utter your command. Go on, give it a try. Not easy to do right?

The method is called ingressive airflow and Microsoft says it will prevent users’ whispered voices from being distorted. Ok fine, but how is this better than not using voice control?

The other problem is for this method to work, you have to put your mouth really close to the microphone. From the patent filing diagrams, it looks like you’re kissing the device. So giving voice commands to your phone in public is more awkward that appearing to kiss your phone in public? Ok.

Microsoft predicts that such technology could potentially be used in smart watches, TV remotes, smartphones, headsets, and even rings.

Wait a minute…smartwatches, TV remotes, headsets and even rings…these are all the things you don’t to put anywhere near your mouth. There are all sorts of germs and diseases on these things yet for the tech to work, you have to put it right up to your lips, just to utter a command? Thank you but no thank you Microsoft.

Thankfully Silent Voice Input is, for now at least, just a patent filing, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll this technology anytime soon. I’m hoping maybe not at all.


Amin Ashaari