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A voice response system is a computer system that responds to voice commands, rather than input from a keystroke or a mouse. Uses for this kind of system range from convenience to necessity to security.
People who are visually or otherwise physically impaired are prime candidates for a voice response system. Because they cannot see or otherwise access a keyboard or mouse, they often have no other way to access a computer, unless they want to depend entirely on other people. Being able literally to tell a computer what to do may be a revelation for someone who ordinarily has little hope of controlling a machine.
This type of system would also come in handy for someone who is not physically impaired. The computer user wouldn't need to be very close to the device in order to access it or give it commands. As long as he was in earshot of the PC, it could accept voice commands in the same way that it traditionally accepts keystroke and mouse commands.
Another prime use of voice response systems is for record keeping. Certain software protocols can make data entry voice-activated, allowing the user to enter data without using his hands. Since the user is relying on the computer to interpret his voice commands, he runs a certain amount of risk of confusion based on his ability to speak clearly. This can often be made up for, however, by the computer's perfect typing.
Many people interact with voice response systems every day, more than they realize. Every time someone dials a bank or a catalog company and the first thing he hears is an electronic voice, his is accessing this type of system. Based on what the caller says, his requests are transmitted by the central computer into specific actions.
In certain cases, an entire phone experience might take place through voice response. One drawback of this kind of experience is that it does not allow for responses outside the parameters programmed into the software. Ask a question that is not on the approved list, and the speaker may not get the answer that he is looking for.
Financial institutions and other companies that want to keep money or information from prying eyes and hands will often use this sort of system to restrict access to that money or information. They are programmed to respond only to certain passwords or voice patterns.
Now more than ever, individuals can easily use their voices to activate and run software programs. Certain applications are available now for voice response systems to run basic household functions, such as turning lights on and off or opening and closing a garage door. The futuristic movies that portray characters using voice commands to do nearly everything might be closer to reality than people might think.
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