All your key devices have always-on voice commands. Or at least they will very very soon. And that means they will always be listening, 24/7.
Now, whether that’s a good or bad thing in terms of privacy etc is an ethics debate in itself.
Regardless, it’s happening.
Which devices? Well, how about Microsoft’s Xbox One? Or perhaps some Google Glass? The Moto X – Motorola’s new flagship smartphone? In-car systems? Oh, and all of those clever Smart TVs that are making their way into living rooms. That’s just for starters, I’m sure there’ll be many more to come.
As we all know, voice-recognition and command systems are nothing new. They’ve been in cars and smartphones for years now, not to mention PCs etc. And they’re finally beginning to get good enough to actually be worth using. Of course they’re still far from perfect (just try and dictate a lengthy email on your phone and you’ll quickly see the shortcomings). But for set commands, they’re pretty damn accurate nowadays, whatever local accent you might have.
So what’s really new? Well, until this point, even the most sophisticated voice-recognition had to be activated in some way, generally pushing a button, be it hardware or software, to get things started.
The key point being that the system wouldn’t be listening to your dulcet tones until you instructed it to do so.
That’s a pretty big difference in terms of interaction. Rather than making a conscious choice to switch on speech mode to engage with your hardware, you will just talk. Same as you always do each and every day. Only it will be to your phone. Or iPad. Or car. Or smartglasses. Or toaster.
In time, this will undoubtedly see the demise of that awkward voice we end up putting on when we fire up Siri and it just doesn’t quite understand the odd word or two. So we try again, only this time speaking like we’re asking for directions in a foreign country where we don’t speak the lingo and presume the best way to aid understanding is to speak twice as slowly at twice our normal volume. It doesn’t help but at least we feel like we’ve really tried.
When that awkward dictation era is gone, we’ll be chatting away to our devices like a new best friend. Gone will be that psychological barrier of engagement where you tell it to get ready for you. In effect, it will make the tech a lot more seamless in our daily lives. Our phones in particular will become an even more integral part of us (and they’re already like another limb).
Our virtual lives are about to get a lot more personal.
Maybe that’s just progress, who needs the hassle of dealing with real people all the time when you can do most of your worldly interaction via a nice chat with your beloved phone? And what’s more, you wont have to spend hours anxiously waiting for your phone to text you back!
No, it will be there waiting for you.