Star Trek fans (a.k.a. trekkies) who long to command their own starships while using handheld communicators will get that chance when a new virtual reality game rolls out later this year.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew will tap into IBM Watson speech recognition capabilities to let players use their own voices and their own words to interact with other players (or "crew members"). The game was created by Ubisoft, a provider of interactive games based in Rennes, France with U.S. offices in San Francisco.
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The game makers used IBM's VR Speech Sandbox software to incorporate Watson features, like speech-to-text conversion, to add voice recognition to the mix. Sandbox can also be used to build intelligent "bots" or chatbots that respond to spoken commands or comments.
Ubisoft had been looking for the best way to use interactive speech to make the VR experience better, David Votypka, senior creative director at Red Storm Entertainment, a Ubisoft business unit, noted in a statement.
“Watson gives captains in Star Trek: Bridge Crew the ability to issue commands to non-player crew members in the same way they do with a human crew; by using their voice," Votypka explained. "IBM provides an easy to integrate solution that is cloud based so it’s light on code and performance while letting us remain fast on feature turnaround."
The in-game "voice experience" will be available this summer.
Building software that interacts with people in a realistic (and hopefully non-annoying) way is a big prize—and nearly every tech giant is pursuing it.
Just look at Amazon (amzn) with Alexa, Google (goog) with Google Home, Microsoft with Cortana, and Apple (aapl) with Siri. All of these technologies are delivered by a consumer device, but tap into vast cloud capabilities in the background to add to their knowledge base and vocabulary.