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One Touch, One Word, One World of Warcraft

The Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL) use voice recognition and touch screen to power World of Warcraft.
April 13, 2006

I love video games. This isn’t a secret. My writing partner and I wrote a book about them (“Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic”). But I don’t love them in the traditional “lock myself in a room to solve Call of Duty 2” kind of way. I love them because they oftentimes serve as the bridge between wicked-cool technologies and mainstream commercial applications.

So when I stumbled upon this blog – complete with the YouTube video – I was flabbergasted. The video, done by folks at MERL, gives a demonstration of how a video game might combine voice recognition software (which is used in some games already) and touch screens (also used in some games), thereby creating a virtual world experience that would physically involve players who would interact with a created game space – without any interrupter such as a controller.

A snippet from a synopsis of the research paper:

With the advent of large multi-touch surfaces, developers are now applying this knowledge to create appropriate technical innovations in digital table design. Yet they are limited by the difficulty of building a truly useful collaborative application from the ground up. In this paper, we circumvent this difficulty by: (a) building a multimodal speech and gesture engine around the Diamond Touch multi-user surface, and (b) wrapping existing, widely-used off-the-shelf single-user interactive spatial applications with a multimodal interface created from this engine.

**UPDATE April 26, 2006:

My headline is misleadiing. Thanks to David Joerg for pointing this out: The game shown is not World of Warcraft, it’s Warcraft 3, a different game from Blizzard. Warcraft 3 is a real-time strategy game, where a single game will take 10 - 40 minutes. World of Warcraft is the famous massively multiplayer online role-playing game, where 4 hours a day is barely enough.

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