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article imageMozilla exploring development of a voice browser

By Ken Hanly     Jun 14, 2018 in Technology
Mozilla, the free software group behind the browser Firefox is envisioning an entirely different browser that would be activated and operate by voice rather than keyboard, touch pad, mouse, or screen taps.
The non-profit organization revealed its plans as an agenda item at a meeting of employees. The project will be called Scout. A notice for the meeting said: "Hey Scout, read me the article about polar bears. With the Scout app, we start to explore browsing and consuming content with voice. This talk will discuss the architecture and key components needed for a voice platform, the required capabilities of those components and the challenges of working with the limitations and confines of existing platforms."
The first sentence was said by Mozilla to be an example of a sample command given to the browser. Mozilla also said that with the new browser the company was exploring browsing and consuming content with voice. The key to using voice in this fashion is Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Services such as Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple's Siri are all sounding more human. The new Google Duplex sounds exactly like a human — so much so that it will identify itself as a robot when making calls, as reported in a recent Digital Journal article.
The new voice browser may help Mozilla compete with Chrome
Mozilla's Firefox browser has been losing ground to the leader Chrome. Chrome now accounts for 58 percent of web usage compared to just five percent for Firefox, according to StatsCounter. A new voice browser would very well put Mozilla again in contention in the browser market.
The voice browser would be a boon for the blind or those with vision problems. Mozilla would not comment on Scout as it is an early stage project, but did say that its aim is to foster "an internet that includes all the peoples of the earth — where a person's demographic characteristics do not determine their online access, opportunities or quality of experience."
Mozilla did say: "We use our internal All Hands conference to come together so we can plan and build for the future. We look forward to discussing these efforts publicly when they are further developed."
Mozilla, now stylized as moz://a, is a free software group. It was founded in 1998 by members of Netscape. The Mozilla community uses, develops, spreads and supports its products. It promotes free software and open standards but with some minor exceptions. Mozilla is funded by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary Mozilla Corporation.
Mozilla is best known for its Firefox browser. It also has the e-mail client Thunderbird. There is also a Firefox mobile operating system, the Bugzilla bug tracking system, a layout engine and other products.
More about Mozilla, voice browser, Mozilla Scout
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