Len Klie

IBM and Ubisoft Bring Us Closer to The Star Trek Standard

For years, the speech industry has been held up to “The Star Trek Standard,” a seemingly impossible example of the technology’s true potential. Based on the long-standing sci-fi series, the Star Trek Standard envisions a day when anyone will be able to walk into any room, tell a central computer what he wants, and have the computer oblige him. Want the lights on? Tell the computer. Want a cup of hot Earl Gray tea? Tell the computer. Want to hear a Klingon opera in full stereo sound? Tell the computer.

While that level of technological sophistication might still be more based in science fiction than reality,  IBM and Ubisoft have partnered to bring voice commands with Watson to virtual reality in “Star Trek: Bridge Crew.”

The new virtual reality game will include IBM Watson’s interactive speech and cognitive capabilities.

With IBM Watson, “Star Trek: Bridge Crew” players will be able to use their voice and natural-language commands to interact with their virtual Starfleet crew members.

Watson powers in-game natural language conversation for Star Trek: Bridge Crew from Ubisoft. (PRNewsfoto/IBM)

“We have been eager to find the right way to use interactive speech to further the immersive and interactive experiences that virtual reality offers,” said David Votypka,  senior creative director at Red Storm Entertainment, a Ubisoft Studio, in a statement. “Watson gives captains in ‘Star Trek: Bridge Crew’ the ability to issue commands to non-player crew members in the same way they do with a human crew; by using their voice. IBM provides an easy-to-integrate solution that is cloud-based, so it’s light on code and performance while letting us remain fast on feature turnaround.”

“For the first time, Watson will power the technology that makes it possible for gamers and fans of “Star Trek” to interact with the crew,” said Willie Tejada, chief developer advocate at IBM, in a statement. “We are only just seeing the impact of virtual and augmented reality, and IBM is committed to providing developers with the tools they need to innovate and be competitive in this AI and cognitive era.”

IBM Watson’s capabilities are making the future of virtual and augmented reality possible. It offers natural language interaction versus keyword-driven exchanges. Further, it supports the most popular VR developer tools with the Watson Unity SDK.

IBM’s new “VR Speech Sandbox,” the software used to build the “Star Trek: Bridge Crew” feature, is a;lso being made available for all developers to adapt for their own virtual reality (VR) applications and services. The Sandbox combines IBM’s Watson Unity SDK with two services, Watson Speech to Text and Watson Conversation. Developers can now build new and innovative user interfaces leveraging the power of voice interaction in virtual reality.

The voice features in “Star Trek: Bridge Crew” will be available later this summer during an experimental Beta period following the game’s launch this month.