Saturday, December 17, 2011

Google Developing Star Trek-inspired Voice Assistant Code-named “Majel”

Google Developing Star Trek-inspired Voice Assistant Code-named “Majel” - The real world seems to continue to get closer to the technological future envisioned by Star Trek, and apparently some of the people working to make that happen are inspired by Star Trek. A new report says that Google is working on a secret project to develop a voice controlled personal assistant, and they named the project "Majel" after Majel Roddenberry Barrett.

Google’s "Majel" Voice Assistant

Last December TrekMovie reported that Google had purchased a speech recognition software company as part of their plan to (as stated by Google’s Mike Cohen) help them "move a little faster towards that Star Trek future" of freeing people from their keyboards and talking to their computers. Now the site AndroidAndMe is reporting that Google’s "secret project" to take on Apple’s Siri voice assistant is named "Majel" in honor of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who provided the voice for Star Trek’s computer for decades (including the 2009 Star Trek movie). Apparently the voice assistant will be available in the future on Android phones and tablets.

According to the report:

Majel is an evolution of Google’s Voice Actions that is currently available on most Android phones with the addition of natural language processing. Where Voice Actions required you to issue specific commands like “send text to…” or “navigate to…”, Majel will allow you to perform actions in your natural language similar to how Siri functions.

And in a follow-up article, an insider tipster describes working with an early release of the secret project:

“…The UI is definitely more powerful than Siri’s, even if a little harder to navigate.

At least at one phase of the development you would activate it by saying “Computer…” It was hard not to use a Jean Luc Piccard accent when doing it!”

And to drive home the point that Google is using Star Trek’s talking computers as a yardstick, a recent video from company titled "The Evolution of Search" has Google fellow Amit Singhai saying (in part) "My dream has always been to build the Star Trek computer."

It isn’t known if "Majel" is just the code name for the secret project, or they will use it for the final product, but regardless we will know that Star Trek was part of the inspiration.

Here is a tribute video (from SuperTrekNerd) of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry as Star Trek’s computer voice. [video made in 2007, before the 2009 Star Trek movie]