Sunday, May 29, 2005

Seawolf and Star Trek

Some of you experienced automated "female voice" alarms for dozens of specific hazard conditions day and night. Nothing new others say? Think nuclear submarine back in the early 1960s through the late 1980s. A lady injected just the right element of urgency into her calm, controlled, clearly annunciated voice to wake up any male in an instant. Between real emergencies and the almost constant drilling, it was good to have the reliable system (also redundant) working so well, some of her crew like Geezer's Corner will tell you. You can hear her voice, and see her autographed photo here.

Many years later there was Star Trek with its interactive, female, "computer voice" onboard a starship photo here. So before there were real "star ships" from Earth, or imaginary ones from Star Trek, U.S. submariners on SSN 575 were leaving Earth's atmosphere with a female voice. The NAVY and Gene Roddenberry figured female voice worked well (and Star Trek's crew was about as diversified as the EEOC could ever hope).

Now BBC NEWS reports corporations and institutions are spending gobs of money figuring out what type voice is best for their customer. Much of the research is conducted in a small room - Room 325 in McClatchy Hall at Stanford University in California. Voices of different age, accent and gender are played to test subjects' reactions: "Did you trust that voice?" and "Did this one have authority?" Generally, tests show that people are less persuaded by female than by male voices, although people are more likely to be antagonised by a male voice. In America, female voice works, but not so well in Japan or Germany. Also, retirement age folks take advice more readily from young people than from people their own age. So the research is being conducted in the U.S. on interactive, voice recognition, talking machines.

6 Comments:

At 30 May, 2005 18:11, Blogger Caius said...

For what it's worth: In Japan, investment companies typically use both male and female voices on their automated phone trading systems. A woman walks you through the main menu ("press 1 to buy a stock, press 2 to sell...", etc.), but a male voice takes you through actual trade. It's based on the idea that investors (most of whom are men) trust men with their money, but they want a woman to lead them into the process.

 
At 31 May, 2005 15:50, Anonymous Jerkin Cheney said...

I find it interesting that the two main Axis powers from WW-II prefer male voices. Germany calls it's homeland the "Fatherland". I am ignorant as to how Japan refers to itself. Maybe someone could enlighten me. I wonder what voices the Muslim nations prefer?

 
At 31 May, 2005 19:05, Anonymous IonImplantGuru said...

For what it's worth, the crew of the Seawolf referred to the voice alarm system as "The Bitch in the Box".

 
At 31 May, 2005 20:35, Blogger Vigilis said...

jerkin cheney, you make an interesting point with two axis powers. Caius Toneriko provides a crucial clarification. As much as you are, I too, am interested in your second question: what voices the Muslim nations prefer? -The ramifications of this are enormous and I congratulate you on your pithy and uncommon insight.

 
At 31 May, 2005 20:38, Blogger Vigilis said...

ionplantguru, your identification of the alarm system's apellation is 100 percent accurate (firsthand knowledge, myself). Did you crew?

 
At 01 June, 2005 00:15, Blogger bothenook said...

so who is the ionimplantguru? curiosity has me on pins and needles. only woofie sailors, and yardbirds at minsy knew (at the time anyway) that we called it the "bitch in the box"

 

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