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Snapchat Introduces New Lenses That React to Voice Commands

When industry insiders talk about the growing ubiquity of voice access, they are typically referring to voice assistants. However, voice has many more applications that streamline interactions with technology. The latest comes from Snapchat with the introduction yesterday of what TechCrunch calls speech recognition lenses. These are lenses that add a filter effect when you say a specific word.

For those unfamiliar with Snapchat, lenses offer the visual special effects added to images and videos. Filters are additional overlays. The new speech recognition feature appears to be a combination of the two. Lenses change frequently and some with audio enhancements have previously been available. As of yesterday, some lenses now enable you to say a word such as, “wow,” “love,” or “hi” and it will add special filter effect to your video. If a speech recognition filter is available, you will be prompted to say something on the screen when selecting the lens. TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez reports:

“Snapchat says it will begin to make around five to six of these new lenses available to users within the next week. They’ll appear periodically in the Lens carousel along with the others, starting … Wednesday August 1st.”

Thankfully, TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez posted a YouTube video of several variants. I was only able to access one of the “wow” speech recognition filters today.

Making Voice Interaction More Common

Voice recognition technology and voice assistants have proliferated faster than users have incorporated voice interaction into their daily digital habits. However, we are seeing that smart speaker owners are increasing their use of voice assistants on smartphones because their presence is top of mind. Similarly, the use of voice in apps such as Snapchat will integrate voice interaction into more facets of our lives and in turn make it more likely that consumers think to use voice for tasks that are completed today through clicks and taps.

Snapchat has introduced speech recognition is a very simple form. It is listening for a single word prompted response. The new Snapchat competitor, Panda, is more ambitious. In that app you can say things like rain and an umbrella with be superimposed on the screen or pirate and you will get an eyepatch. Panda is constantly listening for a number of words that have defined image overlays in its database.

Microphones are all around us and speech has applications well beyond smart home device control, asking questions and requesting music. These fun applications from Snapchat and Panda will simply make voice interaction with technology more frequent and even make talking to technology more commonly accepted in public spaces.

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