UNCW Computer Science Team Working with Honeywell on Home Voice-Recognition Software

Honeywell has supplied professor Curry Guinn with grant and support.

Consumers use Siri to help navigate their iPhones. But what if a Siri-like software existed for one’s house?

A team at the University of North Carolina Wilmington is trying to do just that. Computer science professor Curry Guinn, with the help of two undergraduate students, is attempting to build a speech recognition technology that would allow a homeowner to control their lights, alarm, thermostat, automated locks, security cameras and other home applications simply by speaking.

Honeywell supplied Guinn with a $98,000 grant in May to develop the first phase of the spoken interface, as documented in a Star News report. Guinn has used Honeywell products on a trial-and-error basis to try to keep up with the cutting edge technology required to make his project completely functional.

You should just be able to talk to it just like you were giving those commands to somebody else in the house. — Curry Guinn

Guinn wants the voice-recognition system to be so easy to interact with that a user wouldn’t have to be restricted to a list of exact commands that would prompt a reaction, but also the variances of those commands that can occur. For instance if a user wanted to turn down the temperature, there’s an infinite amount of ways to relay that message, from “I’m cold,” to “Turn down the temperature,” and everywhere in between.

“You should just be able to talk to it just like you were giving those commands to somebody else in the house,” Guinn said. “Of course the challenge there is that there are innumerable ways that someone might say the same kind of thing.”

UNCW sophomore Gabriel Keith and senior Stephen Murphy — both computer science students — have helped Guinn with the project this summer.

Guinn said he’s been encouraged to apply for another grant from Honeywell to continue with the project. Tom Schmit, a Honeywell International senior engineering fellow who lives in the Wilmington area, has assisted the project as well.

“[Honeywell] has just this vast presence in the commercial and home residential market place, so if we can get our technology into their products we will be reaching a vast number of people,” he said. “This has the potential to have a really big impact.”

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