How Things Work: Speech Recognition

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” said Arthur C. Clarke, renowned science fiction author of the 20th century — and even today, we see the truth of this statement everywhere before our eyes.
“Open Sesame!” chanted Aladdin to open the treasure cavern of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. Today, we deal with much the same in our daily lives — from phones that dial numbers at the sound of a name, to automated voice-menus in various phone services, voice recognition is a little bit of magic that technology has introduced into our lives.
Voice recognition, however, is a far more tricky business than it sounds. If even real-life, human students have trouble understanding professors’ thick accents, what hope do machines have in this regard? [click heading for more]