TVs, Voice Recognition, and the Futures of an Older Generation

Morning Moments in Mount Hermon - Share on OviI’ll try and write this without sounding condescending, but I’ve been told by a few folks older than me (by double my age or so) that I have a way of making the things that sound exciting to them sound less than exciting and quite “un-wowing.” I won’t apologize for living in a state where that particular group of persons older than me are realizing and seeing become real in their lives, but will respect the fact that to them, what looks like the future isn’t what it looks like to me.

For example, I’ve heard it from a few people of the “boomer” and older generations that TV represents the way to the future. They are products of a generation after the novella of live and community performances had plateaued and in some respects worn off. The news of their generation, how they related to their world, came from a central authority point that was both respected for being that point, and also before being the broadcaster of that information. So to them, the lens of the future looks like TVs in every room, broadcast controlling the swing and adoption of financial streams and access to education and other kinds of services.

I disagree that TV (itself) is the hinge on the future. Its not to *my* generation, nor to those after me. Its a spoke in a world of media currently being untethered from “layered” media streams, and who’s authoritative stroke grows and wanes with stock prices, not compelling content. But, I get it for them. That is a lens.

Another friend has been looking to voice recognition, both in a non-mobile PC set as well as as an additional input stream for a mobile device. Some of his discussions with me about what’s next comes from the perspective that he’s had from his time – the voice is the authoritative method. Ironically, as a Christian, I can be said to follow in the same meme (preaching, the preached Scriptures, and Paul’s declaration in Romans 10 that salvation is only activated when the ears have been engaged by speaking).

Or, we could look at the inability for carriers and consumers of mobile services to unbundle their minds from the concept of “voice minutes” even when using a “data stream” like Skype to speak to another person. The power of the voice is a strong one, and here it also shapes my friend’s near-future where he’s only interested in the future that includes the Star Trek-like application of voice on top of computing interactions.

Its not quite my future either. But, again, I can see how voice recognition and translations technology are a hinge to which some would stake their claim as to being the “main” interface of the future. Like TV though, it is one of many streams, and I’d even argue so much to say that it is one of many layers of input that we will use as needed.

Which kind of gets me to the point of why I’m sitting down in front of an iPad with a wireless keyboard letting my voice be heard from my fingers through a screen of some sort 😉 Our visions of the “future” look very much like the imaginations-realized of our youth. For some people, they’ve been able to take their imaginations and reach beyond towards creating or interacting in the kind of reality that really was a dream when they were younger. For some, the reality of futuristic interfaces, devices, and services has its hinges on the fact that we age, and our needs for those items around us, in order for us to continue to feel useful and productive in society, have adjusted/evolved. We’ve got to use something different to get a similar experience to what we used to know.

What does my future look like? I dream of something like Minority Report at times, and other times much like the mobile phones with simple realities as seen within the AfroSamuari series. I can see a future of screens, but also a future where there is no such thing as a screen, for reality is the canvas and the screen, and our interactions whether real or virtual happen, they aren’t necessarily scripted.

I do realize though that my dreams for those kinds of futures are built on the foundations of the dreams of the future of those whom are older than me. And each time we interact, and I’m told of what new they are coming to use or realize, I’m getting a glimpse of how I too will one day be the old man in the room, talking about the technologies that I used to adore, interfacing much differently than I did when I was zealous enough to pass it off as “un-wow.”