The mouse enabled graphical interfaces decades ago. Wireless data enabled us to remain connected on the go. Faster processors and smaller sensors have increased the range of what our devices can do. In this world of rapidly evolving tech, consideration for how we as people interact with our technology is not typically as advanced. There are a few great examples out there where humanity and technology achieve parity and the common thread between them is a simplified, natural and reductionist interface.
There’s nothing more minimal than a voice interface and many versions exist already. We’re all pretty familiar with Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Each have their strengths and drawbacks, but all are paving the way for a simple and conversational engagement with our technology. One lesser-known player is SoundHound with their app, Hound, which offers similar access to calendaring, communication, weather, stats and much more. Where Hound excels, though, is understanding context so that a string of questions can be asked through a more natural dialogue. A basic example of this is “How’s the weather in LA today?” and then following the report asking “What about here next week?” Hound will recognize the second question is still about weather and will give you the report for whichever city you’re in at that moment. Most other voice assistants will get stuck on the second question because they’ve already forgotten the first one.
Hundreds of wearable devices are available these days to track fitness and sleep or interface with your phone and home. The miniaturization of batteries, screens and sensors has so far resulted in objects that are a bit chunky or uncomfortable. Motiv changes all that. It’s the most wearable wearable we’ve tested so far. The device is a lightweight attractive ring that tracks heart rate and movement and shares data with a companion app over Bluetooth. The sensors are all industry standard, but the battery is the big innovation here because the team at Motiv figured out how to wrap it around your finger. Curving batteries is not easy, apparently. The ring is durable and waterproof so it can be worn as naturally as any other ring. The companion app is cleanly designed with insight on heart rate and activity and the expected wellness feature set. Given the three full days of battery life and the quick charge time it’s expected you’ll sleep with the Motiv on your finger and in turn, the device will report on basic sleep patterns. Though the ring syncs to the app periodically on its own, simply twisting the ring while it’s on your finger will initiate a sync—another simple, clever UX moment.
Virtual Assistants: Fin
The term AI is used quite broadly these days and while we’re a long way off from sci-fi level AI the likes of Westworld, there are some hybridized products out there that blend machine learning and human intervention to offer the best possible quality of service. Fin, for example, can be accessed through voice or email and can research, communicate, schedule and even purchase on your behalf. The interface is as simple as an email or voice message which is handled by Fin’s always-available software and human team.
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