Guided by Voices

Today Google announced that the new Pixel 2 will pair with the famed Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Babel fish. Dubbed Pixel Buds, Google’s new wireless headphones will translate up to 40 languages in real-time. While this blurring of science fiction and reality opens the door to remarkable multilingual possibilities, have you ever considered using a similar voice API to translate your own speech into code? I never would have dreamed this was a possibility, but I recently discovered a programmer who does exactly that.

Tavis Rudd, a Vancouver-based Director of Technology, demonstrates coding by voice in a 28 minute PyCon talk, now available on YouTube. Using text editor Emacs and DragonFly, an open-source Python-based speech recognition framework, and text editor emacs, Rudd overcame a hand injury that kept him away from the keyboard. He now spends about 50% of his time coding by voice, a split that should prevent recurrence of repetitive strain injuriy (RSI). It took Rudd about a month to learn, and it requires a revolutionary change in how you think about interacting with your IDE. RSI is a very real danger to those of who spend our days typing, however, and heading off a work-halting disability is worth the investment.

Check out Rudd’s demonstration for yourself while I go renew my passport and use my newfound polyglot powers.