Microsoft’s Tell Me subsidiary announced the launch of a new audio service for the BlackBerry which allows the user to conduct local business search, get directions or traffic information, etc. using voice commands. Apparently, by uttering a singe word like “coffee” your GPS enabled Blackberry will do an automatic search (in this case via Microsoft Live Search) and provide you with the nearest cafe links, directions, phone numbers, etc.
That’s a cool feature to have, especially as our “smart” phones get smaller and their screens way too damn small to read. Of course voice activated software has been around for some time, but it hasn’t yet been perfected to the point where it works without a hitch. (If you have ever contemplated chucking your cell phone out the window because your oh-so-stylish “smart” phone repeatedly dialed your boss instead of your mother despite all the voice recognition hype, you know what I mean).
Once we do slip over the sound barrier it’s only a matter of time before PCs make their final journey to the heaping landfills and we unplug permanently from the desk. Right now we are midway there, as sub-notebooks like the Asus Eee PC us toward a personal computer purgatory somewhere between the iPod and whatever-resides-on-your-lap
and-still-sports-a-keyboard. As infared keyboards and the mini projectors are integrated into mobile devices, along with the portability of features and applications across open handsets, the computer in your hand will really be all that you ever need or use. When should you mark your calendar for mobile Nirvana to unfold? I give my laptop 2 years at most…but please don’t tell IT that ;)
What does all of this have to do with news and the media? IMHO it won’t be long before we talk into our handhelds (or peer into our TV Glasses) and ask politely for he news instead of having to type a Website URL into a browser, click on a link, or configure an online news aggregator to feed it to us. Just ask out loud and you will be given unlimited information and news stories, hyper locally, nationally or internationally, along with a myriad of suggestive advertising in varying formats. But imagine “telling” a pop up ad or text message that appears on your cell phone screen to go away – won’t that be fun and more than slightly empowering?
Smart voice search & command is an up-and-coming killer app, with the potential of transforming (yet again) how we interact with our information, machines, and each other. And I would humbly submit that if you can’t see the writing on the wall it’s because you’re not listening…either that or I am already talking too much for you to get a word in edgewise? Fair enough, but it’s the shape of things to come.