An ages-old tool is making our keyboard, mouse, laptop and smartphone obsolete – enabling us to explore new worlds and accomplish new things: Our voice.
While visiting friends recently they promised to introduce me to the newest addition to their family. I was pretty sure they weren’t having any more children, and I didn’t see a new dog, cat or fish anywhere, so I wondered what this new addition was.
“Here she is,” my friend exclaimed, proudly, pointing to his new Amazon Echo hands-free speaker in the corner of the room.
Ah, yes, the “new addition” was Alexa, the service that enables anyone to interact with the device using only their voice.
Alexa is one of several such services, following on the heels of Siri, the personal assistant for Apple’s iPhone, and, more recently, Cortana, which comes with Microsoft Windows 10. All help users to do lots of cool things prompted merely by voice commands.
We all found Alexa to be both fun and practical. She started off as our personal DJ, happily plucking songs from an array of streaming services, and plenty more. Then when my friend asked “Alexa, how is the traffic?” she quickly provided an up-to-date report, including accidents and alternate routes. I asked her to read me the news, and she dutifully obliged. At dinner time we had her order us a pizza. When it was time to bid farewell, we used her to arrange a ride on Uber.
What was fascinating wasn’t just what Alexa could do – many apps provide these services – but rather the primary role voice plays in accessing her.
The Ultimate in Hands-Free Freedom
Our human voices are wonderful things. They’re the tools that power our very existence. We use them every day to communicate, converse, question, persuade, enlighten, inform. But in our ever-more-connected world, Alexa and other new applications are suddenly making our already powerful voices even stronger.
We’re witnessing a revolution in how we interact with the rest of the world, and it’s being driven by our voices. Slowly but surely, voice commands are taking the place of keyboard, mouse, laptop and sometimes even smartphone, in helping us interact with all corners of the digital world. Our voices now enable us to enjoy the ultimate in hands-free freedom.
Forget about clumsily tapping out text messages on tiny smartphone screens; that’s so old-school. Just punch the microphone button and dictate your message. Same with emails. Want to find an obscure cable channel or movie buried somewhere in your cloud-based DVR? Use the voice-activated remote control.
Our voices can even take us places we’ve never been before. We can command our automobile navigation systems to get us to the closest grocery store or across the country – and be confident that we’ll get there.
I can’t wait to see where our voices will take us next. But why wait? Let’s start using them to explore new worlds and try new things. In fact, I’m already on it. I used my voice to write this entire blog, dictating it directly into my smartphone.