Wearables, Star Trek, and Voices in My Head

listenOn the way to work the other morning, I listened to a tech podcast where a discussion regarding Nike’s apparent exit from the wearables category ensued. The consensus among the panel was that smartwatches and other wearable tech just needed to find the right form factor and function to gain an audience.

Google Glass. Galaxy Gear. Pebble’s viability. Apple (maybe) imminent iWatch. The tech news about wearables is chock full of stories about who will get it right. Which device will strike the balance between usability and form?

However, as I have said before on #NoCamo, there is an aspect of wearables that is being (largely) overlooked.

Voice commands.

Well, maybe overlooked is the wrong word. Under-utilized might better describe the market.

All three mobile phone players – Apple, Microsoft, and Google – have voice command options. However, for the most part, they tout what these devices can do when you hold them in your hand and speak to them. When I am holding the device in my hand, I don’t really NEED to speak to it.

However, when it’s in my pocket, I do.

Think of Star Trek (I am not a Trekker, so bear with me here). The only screens that got a lot of looks on the Enterprise are the main viewscreen and Spock’s little thingy he looks into. Most other data imparted by the computer to the user is SPOKEN.

Although I haven’t seen the movie, and I wouldn’t advocate a romantic relationship with a computer, the movie Her seems to convey this eventuality. No PC keyboard. An earpiece. A conversation. An immersed tech experience that blends in with the now.

Though I haven’t heard much about it since its announcement, the Jarvis earpiece by Intel seems to be along these lines. Is that the answer? We’ll see.

I don’t need to see every little thing pop up on a watch-type device or a tiny eye-crossing screen attached to my head. A faint chime in my ear that I can check at my leisure will do. Or, better yet, a whisper, with notification type and sender. That will tell me who it is and if I need to check it, but I already have custom alerts for most of my important contacts, anyway.

I think we have enough screens in our faces (including the one you are using to read this). Every now and then, it’s nice to look away from the glowing rectangle and just live. When information is needed during these times, a whisper in my ear is preferable to finding a rectangle at which to look.

My opinion, anyway.