Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Tech Tip: Using Voice Search in Chrome

Most computers and all current mobile devices today have built-in microphones, and one of the things you can leverage in Chome is voice search and actions.  Giving students the option to speak into the computer for searching or other activities (and hear a verbal response) could add a new dimension for learning, especially for students with accommodations, younger students who aren't yet proficient at the keyboard, students who are not native speakers, or students who just need another method of input.

For those who have used Siri on an iOS device, Chrome gives you similar functionality in a browser.   When you are in the basic Google search page in Chrome, look for the voice search icon, which looks like a microphone.  Clicking on it will activate your computer's microphone, and you can speak your search or action terms into the microphone (you may need to "allow" Chrome to access your computer's microphone).  You can also set it to speak the results of your search (see more info here).

So what types of things can you ask?  You can ask questions about trivia, the weather, sports, mathematical computations, events, translation, etc.  Google also recently released the beta extension for Google's Voice Search Hotword for Chrome.  This just listens for the phrase "OK, Google" and it initiates a voice search without having to click on the microphone icon.  You can get more information here or watch the video below:

While not extensive, voice search isn't limited only to Google Search.  One of our district-wide resources (Encyclopedia Britannica) also lets you use the microphone icon to speak in your search terms.

If you have a mobile device, you can also install Google Now (available for both Android & iOS).  In addition to voice search, Google Now also can give directions, alert you to flight changes, and it even suggests departure times for a Google calendar event based on current traffic.

While not yet a replacement for a fully-featured speech-to-text program like Dragon, voice search & actions could be a very useful tool for students using Chome & Chromebooks.

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