Google Developing Star Trek-inspired Voice Assistant Code-named “Majel”

The real world seems to continue to get closer to the technological future envisioned by Star Trek, and apparently some of the people working to make that happen are inspired by Star Trek. A new report says that Google is working on a secret project to develop a voice controlled personal assistant, and they named the project "Majel" after Majel Roddenberry Barrett.

 

Google’s "Majel" Voice Assistant

Last December TrekMovie reported that Google had purchased a speech recognition software company as part of their plan to (as stated by Google’s Mike Cohen) help them "move a little faster towards that Star Trek future" of freeing people from their keyboards and talking to their computers. Now the site AndroidAndMe is reporting that Google’s "secret project" to take on Apple’s Siri voice assistant is named "Majel" in honor of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who provided the voice for Star Trek’s computer for decades (including the 2009 Star Trek movie). Apparently the voice assistant will be available in the future on Android phones and tablets. 

According to the report:

Majel is an evolution of Google’s Voice Actions that is currently available on most Android phones with the addition of natural language processing. Where Voice Actions required you to issue specific commands like “send text to…” or “navigate to…”, Majel will allow you to perform actions in your natural language similar to how Siri functions.

And in a follow-up article, an insider tipster describes working with an early release of the secret project:

“…The UI is definitely more powerful than Siri’s, even if a little harder to navigate.

At least at one phase of the development you would activate it by saying “Computer…” It was hard not to use a Jean Luc Piccard accent when doing it!”

And to drive home the point that Google is using Star Trek’s talking computers as a yardstick, a recent video from company titled "The Evolution of Search" has Google fellow Amit Singhai saying (in part) "My dream has always been to build the Star Trek computer."

It isn’t known if "Majel" is just the code name for the secret project, or they will use it for the final product, but regardless we will know that Star Trek was part of the inspiration.

Here is a tribute video (from SuperTrekNerd) of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry as Star Trek’s computer voice.

 

Thanks to Darren for the tip

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What a lovely way to honour and remember a legend.

Agreed!

I love Google more and more every day!

Very lovely

Gordon Ramsey's knife

James Earl Jones would be better

1. Absolutely. Majel Barret really was the First Lady of Star Trek. If this name is for the final product, it would be a neat way to honor her.

Best news item of the day.

Very nice move, Google.
You almost give buhzillionaires a good name.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire

#5. He is Good. But Majel is Better and we want the best for this.

Gordon Ramsey's knife

#8 Majel passed in 2008…God rest her soul….so how do you update her voice to todays and tommorrows lingo…Jones is the better choice

This is great! Majel is perfect.

I can’t help but notice that the clip left out her bit in Star Trek (2009) where she was messing with Chekov’s pronunciation!

Loved the clip though.

Star Trek Lives!

I love Star Trek.

And now, I can live Star Trek.

:-)

I can see an ad something like the following:

“Computer, run Level 3 Diagnostic on current operating system.”

Computer: “Unable to comply. Ancient Windows 7 System exceeds capacity for diagnosis or repair. Suggest upgrade to Apple OS Lion.”

^^ Re: 12: Even though Google is the anti-Apple, that is.

@11: Video made two years before Trek 2009 came out. Read the passage above the video.

But, yeah, that would have been neat to add to it.

I Foresee CBS suing Google for using Star Trek references to make money :)

That’s cool. Really is. Would be really cool if they were able to use her voice.

Aw, maaan…they should have called it Pascale. Except then it would stop working for long periods of time and then suddenly start working again inexplicably. HAHAHA!!!

Good call, Google! ;-D

I had the privilege of meeting Majel R. Barrett back in 2006 (about 2 years before she died), and although she was clearly not well, she stayed and autographed for a sizable group of fans and was gracious to each and every one (including myself). She was truly a lady in every sense.

It would be an interesting bit of continuity (as well as a cute insider gag) to have her ‘daughter’ Marina Sirtis continue as the computer voice in the new movies (if she can tone down her Londoner accent just a bit).
;-)

I think there was a poll here once to that effect.

#18 ” (if she can tone down her Londoner accent just a bit).”
Why?
Does everyone in Starfleet come from the U.S?
What’s wrong with a London Accent?

Awesome!

Wonderful tribute to Majel.

If i were to choose anyone else it would be Jennifer Lien (Kes), she has an amazing voice, or Judi Durand (the DS9 station computer).

SInce Majel needs to be replaced in the new movie, I repeat my nomination for Nichelle Nichols as the new computer voice!

@7 whats wrong with being a buhzillionaire?

#22.

I agree. Nichelle Nicholls never got to do any cameos in non-TOS Trek, while the rest of her fellow castmates did. I think Nichelle has a nice voice, and has shown some class, unlike Marina Sirtis, who seems to have some anti-Semitic racist issues with regards to her awful comments about J.J Abrams.

Plus there is no good reason to have Marina follow in the footsteps of Majel. People just associate it with the fact Marina played Deanna Troi, daughter of Majel’s Lwaxanna, on TNG.

#21

I second that! Jennifer Lien does have a great voice.

#24

What anti-Semitic remarks did Sirtis make?

#26.

I don’t know. What I do know is, several people who went to conventions with Sirtis attending witnessed her disparaging remarks about J.J Abrams. Comments about Sirtis’ rude behavior were posted by several fans on this site a couple of years ago; can’t remember which threads, but it was more than a simple misunderstanding.

Let Them Eat Plomeek Soup

Ah…this is awesome.

All I have to say. :)

Keachick - rose pinenut

Were the remarks made just against JJ Abrams personally or did they include racial slurs as well? There is a difference.

This google project is hardly secret anymore, since we now know about it…:)

I vote that Nichelle Nichols become the Enterprise’s new computer voice. Has she been asked? Is she able to/up for it?

Keachick - rose pinenut

I meant to also mention – if only Bob Orci and co. were as “secretive”!…;)

#27

Yeah, what Keachick said.

#27,
JJ earned it.

“Majel” = Excellent

I have always wanted to talk to my computer…. I am just not sure if I want it to talk back to me. It might want to show off and point out my mistakes and go “Nyah-Nyah”.

Barbara Babcock is still with us. She was the voice of the Beta 5. She’d be great.

I would also like to nominate Nichelle Nichols as the new computer voice.

I’ll add my vote for Nichelle as the new computer voice, if anyone’s counting.

It’s a cool idea, but can they legally do that without buying the rights from the Roddenberry estate…probably Rod?

Keachick - rose pinenut

The computer voice is part of Star Trek canon, which is owned by Paramount/CBS? (I get mixed up who else owns what). Therefore, they can have whoever they want to be the new voice.

Troi deserves to be the continuing voice of the computer in Star Trek. Marina Sirtis can fill the shoes of her mother quite nicely. Majel was in everyway the First Lady of Star Trek. She was and always shall be the First Number 1, the first nurse, the first computer voice and finally the first to truly drive Picard nuts. As Gene was the Great Bird , Majel was the Great Angel of the Stars. Google will proudly honor her and CBS better not sue.

Peace and quiet will be a scarce commodity in the very near future. It is bad enough that everywhere you go these days, people are yacking constantly to other people on their cellphones, now they’re going to be yacking TO their smartphones and having the phone yack right back at them.

I really don’t want to hear the guy next to me on the bus asking what’s the best treatment for flaky dandruff, thank you very much.

Ban Siri and Majel. Before it is too late!

(tongue only partially in cheek)

Totally off-topic but could the Borg (if ever done in the new timeline on film/tv/comics) be completely reinvisioned and revitalized successfully as a concept if they were more like the Reapers/Husks from Mass Effect? I mean, they are basically the machine zombies of the Trek universe and thats practically what the Reapers/Husks are in Mass Effect. The Borg just seemed to keep losing their threat level within the series and if they’re ever to make a ressurgance, they need their edge back. Kinda like the Klingons…

Definitely love the idea of “Majel” and I’m with the above posters about Nichelle taking over the voice of the computer. Nichelle or Jennifer (Kes) Lien for sure! better get on that JJ & crew!

They need to clone her voice. It would be so poetic. oh and its Majel Barrett Roddenberry, not Roddenberry Barrett

@39 “The computer voice is part of Star Trek canon, which is owned by Paramount/CBS? (I get mixed up who else owns what). Therefore, they can have whoever they want to be the new voice.”

You are correct in that they could arrange with CBS to buy the rights to the voice itself. Buy CBS doesen’t own the rights to the name “Majel” — that would be owned by the Rodenberry estate.

If it can synthesize Majel’s voice then I’m SOLD SOLD SOLD!

This is cool, what a nice tribute to her. :)

Majel probably recorded enough computer commands over the years that there wouldn’t be a need to replace her. It’s not like the computer would be saying anything particularly weird, except the odd planet or alien name or something that could be dubbed in or spliced together. It wouldn’t feel right without her!

#19 ”
“Why?
Does everyone in Starfleet come from the U.S?
What’s wrong with a London Accent?”

I never said there’s anything WRONG with it, it’s just that her accent borders on Cockney, and it might be difficult for some to understand (especially all of those ‘American accented’ aliens! ;-D). And if you saw ST09, you can see how the computer has trouble with thick accents…

Besides, as a tribute to Majel, the computer voice should sound like her as much as possible. The computer’s always had sort of a ‘neutral’ sort of accent; not particularly regional. Imagine the Enterprise computer suddenly having a strong Bronx accent or Texan accent. It’d be somewhat inconsistent.

And no, clearly Jean Luc Picard is not from the US (nor is he from LeBarre, France, either. My dad lived in France as a boy and he sounded NOTHING like the veddy, veddy British Picard… ;-)

Battle-scarred Sciatica

@13 Hat

Just think what would happen if you mixed Apple and Anti-Apple together!

KABOOM!

Or alternatively evil alter egos would run amuck. Half Sevens, half Lions.

Scary stuff.

The scene from ST:TNG I remember most, regarding the computer voice by Majel, is in an episode where Lwaxana Troi (played by Majel) is setting up a program outside the holodeck doors, and is interacting with the ship’s computer voice (voiced by Majel) — it’s as if she’s talking with herself, LOL! ANTHONY — can you find THAT scene and link to it here, along with the scene showing Jimmy Doohan entering the Enterprise-D’s holodeck? That scene, with Lwaxana, is a hoot!

Thanks Anthony for the story. And YAHOOOOO! Sorry, Google. But this just shows how big Star Trek is. I miss Majel and Gene.

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