NLI makes Glass Clearer

Teneo Virtual Assistant

Your Gran may have only just got her first smartphone, but if reports are to be believed, chances are it will be obsolete before she gets round to upgrading again.

Recent articles have pointed that the end is in sight for the smartphone as technologies such as Google Glass start to emerge, but in the same way that speech is just a input method, a phone along with Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) are just devices. Their success will have far more to do with the intelligence that interprets the users’ needs.

It’s not the ability to command a phone with your voice that makes it so great, after all not everyone wants to speak out loud on a crowded train. It’s that it understands your intent and acts just like a human. You’re not limited to one task at a time. You can interrupt it from sending a message arranging a lunch date to check on the weather and your phone will remind you that you were actually in the middle of doing something else. (Your phone doesn’t do that? You’d better upgrade long before your Gran does).

Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) aren’t new, they’ve been around in the gaming world for some time. However, they are very limiting in size and weight, making them uncomfortable to wear for long periods and not all of them are able to show current surroundings only the CGI of the video being played.

The proposed Google Glass along with drawings in patent submissions from competitors show a completely different picture. Think mobile phones when you had to carry around a battery pack the size of a small suitcase and imagine going straight from that to the iPhone. The difference is staggering.

Now Google Glass may still be at the “one day” stage, with live demos only showing video capture, but it’s clear they are going to rely heavily on technology to interpret users’ gestures and voice intelligently to deliver the expected result to the user.

In the last 12 months natural language has come to mean speech recognition to many people, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Speech is just an input method, the same as text or gestures, it doesn’t understand the context and convey the required actions to back-end systems. The next advancements in all consumer devices will bring the connected world together and the underlying power will be NLI, not input.

But the end of the smartphone? I’m not sure. There’s a reason people have laser corrective eye surgery and lot of it has to do with not wanting to wear glasses. Me – I’m waiting for the brain implant.

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