First there was the keyboard. Then there was the mouse. Now there is a revolutionary new kind of interactive interface for computers.... Synthia. The SynthEyes Instructible Assistant, ie Synthia, enables chat-style natural language control. In short, you can tell Synthia what you want to do, and it will do it.

If you think Synthia is about voice, you couldn't be more wrong. Yes, you can talk to Synthia, and Synthia can answer back. We get it that some people are vehemently opposed to voice in office environments. You don't have to talk to Synthia: you can type or talk, that's your choice. Voice is just the icing on the cake, if you want it. There's likely less than 1% voice-related code in Synthia. On a Mac, basically 0%!

If it isn't voice, what is it?* Language. Synthia is a revolutionary new kind of user interface, a new way of thinking. You tell it what you want it to do (typed or spoken), and Synthia does it. Want to delete the far trackers? Say "delete the far trackers". Or maybe "delete the unsolved far trackers." How about "select the red trackers with error over 2"? Or "select the trackers that are valid on frame 5 and invalid on frame 10"? Do you have any question about what will happen? No, because you instinctively understand it.

How would you do something like that in a GUI? Any GUI? (A GUI is a graphical user interface, ie something like SynthEyes that is controlled by a mouse.) You can't. How many menus and scripts do you want to wade through? (And most users can't write their own scripts.)

We can go on and on with statements that Synthia can interpret. Unlike voice response systems you may be familiar with, Synthia understands an essentially infinite range of statements, based on combining about 8500 rules (and climbing). Synthia doesn't understand 8500 different statements—it understands 8500 different rules combined and combined and combined arbitrarily until they encompass a large portion of your natural language. Those rules encompass SynthEyes menu operations and rooms and views and buttons and trackers and cameras and ...

With natural language, you can describe what you want done, very compactly, in a language you already know, ie English. Synthia interprets what you want, and does it.

And here's the next cool part: you can teach Synthia more. What Synthia understands isn't predefined; you can tell Synthia what you mean, so that it understands more and more. In fact, much of Synthia's knowledge of SynthEyes isn't code; instead, Synthia has been taught about SynthEyes.

You can teach Synthia entire procedures, letting it operate the SynthEyes user interface by remote control. For example, have Synthia call out predefined tracker names, so that you can click the corresponding feature on a set. Presto, a quick way to set up large numbers of green-screen shots identically. Synthia lets you accomplish tasks you'd otherwise have to use a programming language for, but using English.

How can you learn to use Synthia? Do the manual. The manual is designed for you to experiment with Synthia as you read the manual, with exercises and with answers (some are ridiculously easy, others not). Read the manual, do the exercises, and you'll not only intellectually understand Synthia, but you'll have a practical knowledge that you can apply immediately.

* If we told you Synthia is a super-advanced programming language, you'd say you can't program, right? It's a programming language so advanced, it's English. So shhhhhh, don't tell anyone!

The Future

Here's what we (and others) see in our crystal ball:

  • Voice recognition becoming more accurate and faster, ie with latency dropping to imperceptible levels.
  • Synthia encompassing even more functionality and being able to understand even more instructions—at least in part because users will be teaching it more!
  • More and more functionality in the software to be controlled (eg SynthEyes), making GUI controls increasingly problematic, due to limited screen real estate and the productivity drag of deeply-nested multilevel controls such as menus.
  • Synthia complementing current and next generation pointing devices, such as mice, touch, SpaceMouse, and gestural controls such as Leap and Kinect, by quickly executing content-rich imperative commands without requiring the user to remove their hand from the pointing device.
  • The productivity improvements offered by Synthia using voice interaction eventually becoming large enough and apparent enough to cause office environments to be adapted for voice interaction, for example by using noise-canceling wireless headsets and partial office dividers.

Now you've seen the future. Synthia is the start, and it can help improve your productivity today, with or without voice.

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