Jacques Mattheij

Technology, Coding and Business

The ideal mobile computer interface

I think the ideal mobile computer interface is not a series of buttons, or a touch screen, multi-touch or single touch doesn’t really matter, that’s just a detail.

Computers are here to do work for us, media consumption is great but it is also an activity that for the most part is exclusive (unless you’re talking about background music), but there are plenty of times when you are in the need of some information and not simply looking at some movie or browsing the web. Especially while driving, and this is an activity that takes up an awful lot of time. Browsing the web, text messaging and so on are a real detriment to safety.

To me the ideal mobile computer interface is speech. To use a screen or a bunch of buttons implies that you have to look at it, and pay attention to it taking away your eyes from whatever else you are looking it.

If I’m driving to leave my car at the station I can’t go to the local public transport website to check to see what time the train will arrive. But I could talk to my phone:

“Hey computer, what time will the train from Amsterdam arrive, and on what track?”

Just so that I can pick up a family member without them having to navigate the station here, or find where I’ve parked my car.

Software running on my phone could be scanning for the ‘hey computer’ sample, start recording right away and stop recording at a long enough pause to signal the end of the assignment.

The phone, after 10 seconds of messing around on the web could come back with “Ten past two, track 5”.

Now, that’s probably science fiction, when implemented with software and hardware the way we have it today, in the future, maybe.

But you could do it today. Simply have your phone speed dial some service where ‘wetware’ agents are waiting on a first-come-first serve basis competing against each other to find the right answer. The first answer that two of them come up with gets passed on to the user, the fee gets split between the two.

A marketplace like the mechanical turk, but with voice fragments as the input and output media.

I’m not sure how big a market there would be for something like this, but I’m fairly sure that if the price were on the order of maybe 30 to 50 cents or so per event that this would be a service that I personally would use.

Would someone please go and build this?

I’ll happily subscribe!