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Beta products – jump onboard to shape the future

By February 26, 2012July 12th, 2023No Comments

It’s an all too familiar frustration, buying a new product, only to have it surpassed by a better, cheaper model a few months later. Many purposely seek out the torture, after buying a product, of wandering through stores comparing prices and specs with their purchase. Suffering envy’s wrath when inevitably the new product comes out cheaper and better. But there is some consolation available — in some cases — for those of you who get some form of altruistic pleasure out of doing something for the “greater good.”

Your prize — knowing you are shaping the future of technology.

Certain forms of technology or software that are released for use by the general public are still in early stages of development.

In what the tech savvy call – “the beta product” – in layman’s terms a practice run.

Technology giant, Apple, has done this. The iphone 4S, with its voice activation programme Siri, is one example.

Various forms of transcribing software have done this and continue to do this.

Why? Because as Peter Mahony, an executive for the computer software firm Nuance Communications said; “It is all about the data.”

A beta product includes most of the product’s functionality. Where it differs is that rather than being the final product, it is used as a test model in order to see what problems may exist and to receive feedback from the consumer.

The more that is understood about a product and how it is used enables a company to be “smarter about understanding,” what kinds of things they are looking for.

Mahoney said consumer devices with speech recognition features, such as GPS which is built into a car, only had a set number of words programmed into them.

Therefore it was unable to improve with use, consumers had to teach themselves the precise way to certain commands.

“But,” he said. “Those days are going, where slow monosyllabic voice commands need to be given.”

Now technology designers are developing transcription software that will listen and understand you much more like a real person.

And the more who jump on board – the better it will get.

By Corazon Miller, Journalist