The release of Bot Colony by Montreal-based gaming company North Side, Inc. this week marks a breakthrough in gaming technology. Verbal communication is the main form of communication with other game characters and their response to a player’s statements demonstrates not only a profound level of voice recognition, but also a greater understanding of language meaning by computers.
The potential impact these advances have goes well beyond the gaming market and into areas like training and simulation. It may also be another step toward vocal input as a primary means of entering data.
Bot Colony is an adventure game where robot characters are more ubiquitous than Starbucks. A successful robotics corporation faces never-ending threats of sabotage and industrial espionage from rivals that force the company to relocate key operations to a remote island in the Pacific.
Three critical robot prototypes are missing, and the idea of the game is find the persons responsible and recover the prototypes. While progressing through solving the case, several characters appear and the player must communicate with them verbally.
The technology is yet another advance in gaming over the past 30 years that has gone from two-dimensional “shoot-‘em up” games to sophisticated three-dimensional games that have a plot and can take considerable learning to play.
The potential for such improvements goes beyond gaming that provides a better experience. Game-like simulators are being developed for training employees in real-life situations that they encounter in their job. ForgeFX has developed simulators that take employees through common tasks that they encounter while doing their job. A construction worker has to lay plywood on top of a roof, but in order to do so, must follow proper procedures to avoid injury. Failure to do so results in the on-screen worker suffering serious debilitating injuries. It’s a great way to gain experience firsthand without a trip to the hospital.Anyone who has used Siri or the Google (News - Alert) Navigation app that comes with Android phones can attest to the improvement of voice technology. Accurately recognizing commands without needing to calibrate beforehand is a big step forward. With the voice recognition developed by North Side, 3D simulation will become more realistic. It also has the ability to change how we interact with computers. Once the capability to recognize verbal statements is accurate to “a few nines”, it’s a matter of time before we all talk to computers much like it’s done in Star Trek or 2001: A Space Odyssey.
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