Calculator natural language user interface



#14

Any predictions on when we will see this?

I am not sure if I would appreciate it or not. My wife has a new iPhone 4S and the SIRI interface is intriguing. I began to wonder about a calculator interface using the same technology.

I know it will happen sooner or later. Unfortunately I doubt that RPN will be in the mix.


#15

SIRI supports interaction with Wolfram|Alpha ==> one BIG calculator...

Edited: 6 Jan 2012, 5:56 p.m.


#16

Thanks for the info. I will have to experiment with that.

Trouble is, my wife is very possessive of that phone.

#17

Natural language? That will never be suitable for math and logical stuff-- at least not in English. I understand that Korean however is RPN.


#18

Quote:
Natural language? That will never be suitable for math and logical stuff

Spoken language is not a good fit for math, but a CAS that can decipher handwritten math would be fun to use.

#19

Quote:
Natural language? That will never be suitable for math and logical stuff-- at least not in English. I understand that Korean however is RPN.

Japanese language grammar is basically RPN in the sense the
predicate/operator follows its objects/arguments. I've heard
Korean as well is of similar structure.

The other nice attribute being grammar rules largely apply,
compared to say English where the exceptions to a rule
seemingly outnumber the actual instances of it. It's
fairly easy with a quite modest command of Japanese grammar
to construct rambling sentences which while structurally
correct, are so unnaturally complex that a listener is
challenged to parse them in realtime. At least that's my
excuse for being chronically unintelligible.

#20

I apologize for the poor communication on my part when I started the thread. I did not really mean "Natural Language" per se. What I was contemplating was a device which understood words rather than sentences. Something similar to what my Garmin GPS accomplishes now.

Imagine this

You speak the word "Start" or "Begin"

The device display turns on with -- 00.0000 --

You speak the word "Two"

The display changes to -- 02.0000 --

You speak the word "Enter"

The calculator copies the register to the stack

You speak the words "Log" "Ten"

The display changes to -- 00.3010 --

You speak the words "Ten" "Multiply"

The display changes to -- 03.0100 --

In other words you eliminate the keyboard. I have thought about it a great deal today and I think the approach has a lot of merit.

I realize this kind of technology is currently too expensive for consumer grade calculators at the present time, but think about it.

Dumping the keyboard has some pretty obvious economic advantages. I also think it has some advantages for the user. No more hunting for that seldom used function that resides on a shifted key or is buried in some menu. No more user assigned keys to compensate. In fact -No more keyboard - no more keyboard complaints.

I think we will see this on a smart phone soon.


#21

It will be just like present day voice command systems(siri,bluetooth voice dial) you have to raise your voice for the device to respond. There will be a room full of engineers or students shouting at their calculators. The guy in the cubicle or seat next to you will be picked up by your calculator and it'll screw up your equation or program.


#22

True.

That was my first criticism also. You won't use this technology in the class room or the exam room. So an on screen keyboard will have to remain available, and I really fumble with the iPhone screen keyboard.

#23

I think that for anything beyond the simplest operations, you'll run into problems like you get in "My father shot an elephant in his pajamas," or "The butler stood at the door and called the guests' names" versus "The butler stood at the door and called the guests names." (One was doing his job, whereas the other one ought to be fired.)

Although I don't dispute that there are valid applications for voice recognition, I hope the keyboard never goes away. I can write much better than I can talk. OTOH, I called the post office from my cell phone outdoors last year, and the voice-recognition system was totally unable to correctly interpret anything through the little bit of wind noise on the microphone.

There is the Frogpad though, which makes it possible to type 80wpm on a small, one-hand keyboard with about 20 keys. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNsrfaHl9kI and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmzYovAMHE4 .

#24

Hello Donald,

your example illustrates fine, that this is not "natural language" anyway. It's a kind of adaptation the human speaking towards a machine.

And there are existing three problems:

The technical one: the spoken word has to be transformed into a signal which can be handled by the machine.

The semantical one: is the signal for the machine that, what it should be: a certain command in a distinct situation.

The anthropogenical one: In which ways I'm transforming myself in using such a machine? My speaking, my behavior and last not least my cognition of problems.


The first two are lying one the hand, the last is often forgotten, but in my eyes the most important.

It don't say: Don't do it, but I hope we beware of that.


Sincerely
Peacecalc


#25

"The technical one: the spoken word has to be transformed into a signal which can be handled by the machine."

Nothing trivial about this problem, but I would argue that we are well along the path to a solution.

Example: I never use the on screen keyboard on my Garmin Nuvi GPS. It is much easier and simpler to use voice commands, than to attempt keyboard entry.

"The semantical one: is the signal for the machine that, what it should be: a certain command in a distinct situation."

Agreed. That is the difficult problem. The lexicon of a 4 banger calculator would be completely manageable. The lexicon of a 50G would be daunting.

Example: I think the Garmin GPS minimizes that problem by using voice prompts. Knowing the context created by the voice prompts it can then select the appropriate lexicon for the next command. I don't think you could implement a calculator that way and I don't know how to attempt to solve the dilemma.


"The anthropogenical one: In which ways I'm transforming myself in using such a machine? My speaking, my behavior and last not least my cognition of problems."

The device will transform the individual.

Example: I bought that Garmin GPS many years ago when it was "new" technology. I was not interested in voice recognition. I thought it was simply a marketing gimmick. It turned out that the worst feature of the device was the on screen keyboard. There is so much latency with key press response that it was frustrating to use, so I gave it to my wife expecting her to be disappointed also. In fact she commented often how pleased she was with the device. Her secret was that she never used the keyboard and now I realize that I never will either. The voice response is an order of magnitude faster than the keyboard even if it had a perfect keyboard.

OT: Since I introduced the topic with a comment about SIRI let me make another observation. The thing that impresses me the most about SIRI is not what SIRI understands, but what SIRI does when it does not understand. It is my first experience with a man machine interface that does not respond with "invalid input" and then just quit.

Edited: 7 Jan 2012, 1:39 p.m.

#26

Quote:

I am not sure if I would appreciate it or not. My wife has a new iPhone 4S and the SIRI interface is intriguing. I began to wonder about a calculator interface using the same technology.


The SIRI interface must surely be intriguing on a phone; but the matter is probably quite a different thing on a calculator.

As far as I am concerned, one of the most fascinating aspects of a calculator dwells in its keyboard: colours, shape of the keys,feel... most of us pay considerable attention to "mushy" or "sticky" keys.

Maybe it's a silly attitude, but I like by far to feel the click of the enter key under my finger better than to hear the voice of myself commanding the calculator.

Warm regards

Vince


Edited: 7 Jan 2012, 9:46 a.m.


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