The Presence of The Past In The Future

Commenting on my Speech Mesh entry, csven wonders whether Microsoft’s Surface Computing technology announced today could be combined with a “traditional typing shorthand solution allowing for very simple but very fast sentence construction”. I believe this is called semantic compaction by folks involved with augmentative and alternative communication. Semantic Compaction Systems has something called Minspeak which uses prestored utterances.

Minspeak–a hieroglyphic-based semantic compaction software that is more efficient than alphabet-based programs and has raised the voices of thousands around the world by giving them a fast, easily learned way to communicate.

Wabash Magazine: Voices Raised

Minspeak is used in a keyboard overlay and an implementation on a Dell Axim. I believe I first saw Minspeak in Byte Magazine some 20 years ago but the principles upon which it is based are much, much older. Perhaps they’re part of some resonant patterns Sheldrake speculates about in

I mean we’ve already been From Ancient Egyptian Language To Future Conceptual Modeling  so maybe these patterns are pretty deeply entrenched in our neural structures. We’ve also seen them projected into the future via sci-fi so it’s not surprising to see the Minority Report interface link on Surface Computing. I got that link from ReBang which also has other good thoughts and links on surface computing. With all this touching going on I guess it’s time for another Crash remix.



  1. csven said

    Not quite what I was thinking, actually.

    It’s not just the glyphs and images, it’s their shapes and how they relate to the conversion process. For example, does a keyboard overlay glyph for the sun allow a user to change it’s size such that the text-to-speech converter can be controlled to qualify it appropriately (e.g. small sun = “warm sun”, big sun = “hot sun”, max size shape sun = “unbearably hot sun”).

    Similarly, a wordshape could introduce speech inflections that the synthesizer could interpret.

    Imagine a word on a block. If the block is rectangular there are no inflections. If it has a rhomboid shape leaning one way, it might be said especially fast by the speech synthesizer; leaning the other way it might be said slowly.

    If a wordshape is larger on one end, the accent for the word is placed appropriately.

    Is there anything like that available? (Sorry, haven’t gone deep enough into your links).

  2. Laurence said

    I see … I didn’t address the interesting emphasis/inflection modifiers you came up with as I was more focused on the core representations – the “shorthand”. I don’t know if Minspeak addresses this or not, but I would think it must at least a little bit. Hieroglyphs employ multiple encodings though obviously not to aid in electronic speech synthesis. People tend to look at hieroglyphics as being overly complex, but today’s multimedia documents aren’t simple either. This both/and approach is a good thing IMO as a lot of info is lost with strictly textual representations.

  3. csven said

    Well, the glyphs could be dropped and words used instead. I’m thinking along the lines of: how can non-speech input be improved to eliminate disparities.

    My first thought is increase the speed. Typing is slow compared to speaking. But maybe assembling words could work.

    My second thought is to make it more natural-sounding. That’s where variable shapes might help.

    This reminds me of my grade school music class, where we traced a projected visual (with the teacher using a pointer to help us along) that represented Beethoven’s 9th. No music notation. Just shapes that seemed appropriate to the sounds.

  4. Laurence said

    sound shapes are nice and might really work even better with a tonal language … still it seems to me that developing a useful, approachable core vocabulary is still a key requirement but then again, I’m not a linguist

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: