Future versions of Google Now won’t need a data connection
Looks like Google is stealing the march of PDAs from Apple and Microsoft. While both Cortana and Siri require Internet connection to serve the users, future version of Google Now will work without an Internet connection.
Google has just published a new research paper that shows that it is possible to use your phone’s personal assistant without a data connection. The research team at Google is working on creating a new, personalized system for voice commands, as well as dictation.
To train the new system, the team mainly used 2,000 hours of recorded and anonymized Google voice search traffic, totalling more than 100 million requests. The team also added background noise from YouTube to imitate real-life speaking conditions.
The team was able to come up with a voice system that not only runs from the user’s smartphone, but runs seven times faster than the current version of Google Now on the Nexus 5 by applying a number of complex computational and compression models. The new version of Google Now takes only 20.3MB of storage, which is a negligible amount when most phones have at least 8GB or 16GB of on-board storage.
According to the paper, the results are based on two distinct domains, dictation and voice commands. In order to keep the disk space low, the company has experimented with language model interpolation techniques that enable sharing of a single model across both domains.
The system is based on machine-learning, in which the software is able to learn as it goes, getting accustomed with the user and the user’s preferences.
While this new system won’t handle telling you what the score of last night’s Golden State Warrior’s game without a data connection, but it can do many other tasks. For example, sending an email to someone on your contact list or telling it to turn off your Wi-Fi, etc. Clearly, it can’t send that email without a data connection, but it can write it up and send it as soon as you have a data connection again.
Similar to the previous version of Google Now, the system is able to handle proper names and other device-specific information for tasks. For instance, your contact list is going to be different than another user’s contacts. When asked to do something like send an email, the system will write out the command and store it, then execute it later when the user is back online.
It will definitely be interesting to see what the future of Google Now holds. Many people who have the current version of Google Now, their main frustration is the lack of offline functionality. In such a scenario, at least if some offline functionality is offered it will be very helpful.
Google plans to present the findings at the 41st International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing , which is happening from March 20 at Shanghai.