Ring a bell, bang your fist, or merely approach your computer, and, with the help of the Verbalizer, a microphone-shaped open-source platform unleashed by the research lab and advertising agency Breakfast NY last week, you can now trigger Voice Search on your desktop’s Google Chrome browser.
The kit is aimed at tech-savvy tinkerers who want to push the boundaries of how people use their computers to find information online.
Although Google’s Voice Search has been a feature on mobile devices for several years, it entered the world of desktops just this month, and the Verbalizer already takes its capabilities several steps further.
“We were approached by Google creative labs to create something cool using Google's Voice Search for desktop, and we love the idea of using tangible devices to operate normally on-line only experiences,” explained Mattias Gunneras, Breakfast NY’s co-founder and tech director.
In its most basic form, the touch-sensitive Verbalizer connects to your computer via Bluetooth and, when triggered, wirelessly activates Voice Search in your Chrome browser and lets you speak into its microphone to perform a Google search. But the techies at Breakfast NY designed the Verbalizer to have the potential to allow more than just touch to trigger it into action. The device, built using the Arduino open source electronic prototyping specifications, allows anyone to modify it and add their own contraption to take it to yet another level.
“We wanted to make it easy for creatives, developers, hobbyists or artists to come up with and implement their own ideas of how Voice Search could be used,” Gunneras explained.
Anyone familiar with Arduino will feel at home playing around with the Verbalizer. “Users can attach any kind of sensors to the Verbalizer and modify the program that runs on the board,” Gunneras said. “This means you could activate Voice Search with anything from a big red button built into your desk to a genie lamp that you stroke with your hand.”
To induce people’s creativity to flow, Breakfast NY is currently holding an open call for requests for a Verbalizer from people looking to experiment with additional ways to trigger a search. They will distribute a limited number of Verbalizers to a select few based on short descriptions of what people would like to build with them.
“We want people to have some fun and do something creative with Voice Search on the desktop,” Gunneras said.
“I can't wait to see what creations we'll get from the people we give the boards to. We ourselves were experimenting with some vibration sensors earlier which triggered a search as you bang your fist on your table. We also made a HAL-looking device, inspired by the film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ With a proximity sensor, it greeted you and activated a voice search in a computer-made voice just as you walked up in front of it. Only your imagination stops you.”