Google Experiments Take Voice Search To Australian Desert and Great Barrier Reef [Video]


Google uploaded a pair of videos to their YouTube channel today highlighting none other than their Google Voice Search. The videos were no doubt incited from all the attention Apple’s Siri has been receiving lately and showcase a few experiments conducted by a few of Google’s Aussie engineers. The experiments show how well the Voice Search function can understand a user (even those with heavy Australian accents) in a variety of unideal situations.

The first video sees two Google engineers traveling all the way out into Australian desert where they test how well Voice Search works, even when the person speaking is over 50 meters away from the device.

The second video has another two Australian Google engineers travel to the Great Barrier Reef where they see how well Google Voice Search works while the user is underwater. Spoiler: it actually doesn’t work out as well as you might think. Check it out.

According to Google, Australians have the second highest smartphone penetration in the entire world, 2nd only to Singapore but for some odd reason, one of the lowest Google Voice Search usage rates. I wrote an article on my complete lack of taking advantage Google’s handy voice commands on my Android device and apparently, I’m not the only one.

What did you guys think of these videos? Waste of time? Or a fun way to get the word out on one of Android’s greatest yet, underused features? And seriously — where can I get one of those Voice Search shirts?

[Via GoogleMobile]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. after this video i asked my self why i dont use voice search more often im gonna have to start

    1. Ditto. I’m making a renewed effort. =)

      1. n00bs… I always use it…. sometimes…

        1. “Always use it.. sometimes” xD

  2. I’ve tried on many occasions to use Google Voice Search, and found that it just doesn’t pick up my Aussie accent! So many time i resorted to an American access to get the query through!
    So that’s why Aussies don’t use it.

    1. There’s a setting under “voice input and output” that allows you change the recognizer settings language to Australian English =)

      1. Arrrh… I just realised that my Nexus S is defaulted to English (UK)… English (Australian) works much, much better. Thanks for the tip, I might actually be able to use this now.

        1. I guess I need to take an accent reduction course to make Google Search more useable for my Russian accent. Dude, we can’t say short or long vowels, such concept is non existent in Russian. How am I supposed to make Google decide whether I said sheet or s…?

    2. Maybe you need to throw a few “mate” in your sentences every now and then when you use it?

      I kid, I kid…

  3. I’m Australian and I’m soon to be a galaxy nexus owner and I would call myself an Android fanboy, just like to say this is a fucking disgrace, I can think of so many things they could have done to wow Australians like that gay siri from apple has done, this looks more like something to interest international viewers showing off the outback, Australia is just like any other country, we don’t all live in the desert so why would they try and show off their voice search to a demographic sector of the population which wouldn’t even take up 1% of the total population. As someone who is ultra-keen to see the advancement of android in Australia this deeply disappoints me.

    1. Aside from your negative use of gay, you totally missed the point of why they went where they did. Going to the Outback, does a far better job of showing the distance of 50 meters than if they used it in a city. And while it’s been years since I’ve visited Australia, I don’t ever recall a Great Barrier reef anywhere in Sydney. Common sense goes a long way, even down under.

      1. For starters I have no idea what your last comment about the great barrier reef not being in Sydney is all about, but anyway, the point of my comment was to say why would you show off the fact that it works from 50 metres away (when they used parabolic reflectors anyway) when that will literally never be of any use to anyone, as I said in my first comment, “I can think of so many things they could have done to wow Australians” yes common sense does go along way and common sense tells me that no one will be interested in the fact that I can have my friend stand 50 metres away from me in rural Australia while I ask the android in his hand a question.

    2. They didn’t even talk about the desert in the first one. It seems to me that they were showing how well it worked more than anything. From that distance and with wind or other interference in between them, you wouldn’t expect it to work that well even with the assistance of the hemisphere things.

    3. You know that thing companies sometimes do in advertising where they take their product and use it in an absolute extreme environment to demonstrate how well it works? This is that thing.

      It’s not to about saying ‘look how pretty the desert it’, it’s about saying ‘look how well this works in the middle of ****ing nowhere! Plus we did it through a parabolic reflector!’.
      Then you’re supposed to say “wow, if it works that well in the middle of nowhere through a parabolic reflector then I shouldn’t have any trouble when I talk directly into the microphone with my decent metro 3G signal!”

  4. There’s a specific language in settings titled English (Australian) once I changed to this I had no problems in it recognising me, if you have already done this I cant help sorry

  5. I don’t use voice search because talking to my phone is not something that I want to do, not matter how much I like it.

  6. I use voice to spell check lol

  7. I haven’t used Voice Search because I have a lisp. But if it’s gotten this better, I guess I can start trying it out. Hmm…

  8. I have been using it for over a year now…. works perfect for me (I’m an Aussie)… def speeds up the use of your phone…. Love having the use of it in every app and also on the keyboard to dictate messages….

    Siri would not work for me as you ask the question, and it answers you… I want to know the source of the answer, the web page, google search etc….

    This is why Voice Search is so much more useful than siri…. but hey, Apple will market this to be the only way to conduct voice searches….


  9. Voice search is great, but I also use it to send text messages, emails, and calendar appointments. It is just as versatile as Siri, lets not forget about Google translate. I view that as an extension of voice search.

  10. I use voice search/actions all the time, and feel it’s one of Android’s indispensable features that often gets overlooked because it involves speaking to your handset. Personally I have never had trouble with voice recognition and can not wait for ICS’s continuous voice dictation.

    1. I think it hears some voices better than others. I sound like Sloth from the Goonies when I talk. Makes things difficult for the app… and with girls =/

  11. why didn’t he use voice search to find out how many square inches in a square meter then use voice search to calculate the answer?

  12. Agree with Brandon

  13. I am suprised they even had service lol

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