Sometimes I wonder
Ok, it’s not that I don’t agree that the UI of a mobile phone is kind of shit. It is. Unless you are actually trying to make a phone call. Then it’s great. But for everything else it’s pretty much shit. But I still don think that being able to talk to your mobile phone is a very good idea.
In fact I think it’s stupid. Let’s face it. Speech recognition is an interesting technology that is still in the process of finding a suitable application because most of the time talk is really low bandwidth, error prone and complex. I agree that writing long text messages on a normal mobile phone (I am not talking about the high end “Oh I’ve got this complete qwery keyboard here, complete with number pad and everything” now but about normal bog standard mobile phones) is a hassle. Well, complicated anyway unless you are used to it. But seriously, the solution isn’t being able to talk to it – and certainly not to be able to use that particular technology to find “restaurant listings” and “film schedules” (examples blatantly stolen from the link). Those examples tend to pop up in every single little discussion about location dependent services, regardless of the application but in fact most of the time people are more than happy to just wander for a bit until they find a restaurant that suits them. What would be really useful are services where a very limited vocabulary has no place. For example finding the lowest price on a Pioneer 1000HD in Ahikibara or Shenzen. That would be useful. But speech recognition on the handset really doesn’t do much for you there. What would be far more useful would be a GPS in the handset and an ability to share those settings with service providers on the network as part of a session setup. Let’s assume we could freely add headers to HTTP 1.1. We could then decide to have a header that basically supplies the server with User-Location. Ok, so we might want to call it something else, doesn’t matter. Since I might not want to share my location with all services (because that would be stupid) it might be better that there is a challenge-response model from services that can supply me with additional information if I supply my location. It should be trivial to present the user with a “Do you wish to supply your location to this service” message. Now the service provider would be able to supply us with a location tailored service without resorting to any weird tricks and we could get results for searches (for restaurants or movie theatres) that are ranked by their distance from our current location. But until then a lot of companies are going to be able to raise venture capital with the promise of becoming the next T9. What really surprises me is the lack of forward thinking on the VC:s part (I know, I shouldn’t be surprised) where they seem to be unable to see where the wind is blowing.
If you excuse me I will now go talk to my coffee machine a bit. It’s lonely and needs the company and I feel like I need to insult somene.