Is speech going to become the new text?

Is speech going to become the new text?

On the way home from work on the bus. Over brunch on Sunday morning. At the opening of the trendy new bar. During the latest blockbuster movie, in the cinema. At the dinner table with family and friends. In the weekly WIP. Yes, there is no longer any inappropriate time or place to be texting. It’s all we do nowadays.

If we need to tell or ask someone something, a text message, a chat over social media, or engaging with a chatbot is the first thing we think to do. No matter where we are, or who we are with. Except during an ice hockey game. Which is why I play!

But is texting actually the way of the future? Will we continue in this vein?

I am in the No corner on this one.

Does this mean we will actually start talking to one another again? Like in the good old days when we skipped our maths lesson because we had to clean up after our tamagotchi chicken, who might die if its steaming mess sat beside it for too long! Well, not quite.

Will we actually stop staring at our phone and tablet screens? Again, I, unfortunately, don’t think so.

I think what the future holds is more speech! And don’t mistake that concept with conversation, please. So, yes, it’s still a relatively anti-social concept but at least we are using our voices now.

How does speech fit into the world where we can very quickly send messages by tapping away on our phone, fat fingers providing no consequence?

With Alexa, Google Home and other similar new technology, I predict we are going to start talking at our devices, telling them to provide what information we need, and even do things like making reservations on our behalf.

The advert where we witness people telling Google to turn off the lights still feels so James Bond-like.

But its available right now, once we conquer our own mental barriers and embrace it.

Siri was a bit of an alien concept when it was introduced. So Siri from iPhone is basically a personal assistant that can do tasks like scheduling events, identify music, make calls, setting reminders, and even booking reservations at your favourite restaurants. In fact, there are others on the market too – Google Now and Windows 10 Cortana are also some healthy competition in the mix that is meant to do more or less the same thing.

Right now, they are all a bit hit and miss as they are being more developed.

Voice recognition is sometimes an issue, and sometimes they mishear what you are trying to say, suggesting that intonation and perception may not be something computers can decipher.

Their anticipatory nature is being worked on too, and if they can master that, then these personal assistants may start to really carve a place for themselves in our lives. How they will gather this information, from us entering our preferences at the start to them keeping a memory over time, remains to be seen.

However, as we get more used to talking “at” these computers, they may actually take over from texting as our main means of communication.

Want to book a restaurant? “Siri, book my favourite restaurant.” Want to send flowers on Valentine’s Day to your boyfriend? “OK Google, send him roses.” Want to find out the weather in Lyon? Hang on, you can’t right now. In fact, you are on the ice playing hockey and your foremost concern is to not die! So you will have to wait… a concept that is more foreign than France to us right now.


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