Thursday, August 08, 2013

Voice is the new Touch

We saw it happen many times before, Windows is the new DOS, Web is the new Desktop, Touch is the new Web and now we can start to glimpse the next one: Voice is the new Touch.

All of these technologies still exist, each of those phrases doesn't state the end of the previous one, but the addition of a new layer that impacts everything we'll do and see in the future. Some people tried to kill the web a while ago ... and they were very unsuccessful at that ... so we shouldn't try that again. Touch will live a long life. We're just saying Voice came here to stay on top of Touch.

What will be driving this new paradigm shift?

It clearly started with Siri, although it didn't have the strength to do the whole click, it started something big.

For me personally, Google Glass caused the major shift.

Others will see it with the Moto.

Less early adopters will see it when cool voice applications start to come out on an android or iPhone near them.
And the curve of adoption that I mentioned a few times before, will follow it's typical shape.

My aha moment was a week ago, as I was sitting on a meeting table and someone wanted to know how many simulators we had from a particular brand store in a certain area. After being using GoogleGlass for three months, it came as second nature to me to think wouldn't it be nice to be able to say: "ok glass, what is the number of simulators sold in Canada during the last quarter?".

And that was a realization, not only it would be cool to be able to ask my custom database that question, it will be a standard thing to do one day. The layer of voice will become pervasive. Once the users start using voice for a few simple things, it will be unstoppable. Users will want more voice commands and queries. Developers will want to enable voice on their apps. Voice will be the new Touch.

Wow! I was shocked! and inspired!!

Couple days later I was having meetings to discuss Glass integration for vertical markets. My first one was with EverMed, talking about bringing Glass to Medicine. Helping the doctor do her rounds and prescriptions with Glass. Any other day before my aha moment I would have been thinking exactly that 'How to bring Glass to Medicine?". But after that moment in which I realized Voice is the new Touch my vision was expanded. I mentioned to Christian Saad and Thomas Schartz that we at 33 Labs have a voice/touch workflow engine called "Oktopus, get up to speed".

They just loved the idea. That is exactly what a doctor needs! said Dr. Saad.

Everything was starting to click.

So, what if in our next meeting, bringing Glass to Agricultural production we could port the same concept. How about using Oktopus as the voice/touch workflow engine, integrating android tablets or cells and Glass into a workflow for Agricultural Producers and Agricultural Engineers?

Gabriel Medina, specialist developing software for this vertical for the last 30 years loved the idea. Eduardo Blasina, Agricultural Engineer loved the idea as well.

They all got it and they even started writing scenarios on word documents for collaboration. It was a natural fit!

What I see in the future, is this huge paradigm shift (one more time) that will make every little app have to have a voice component.

We see databases enabling a natural language query of some sorts.

Business Intelligence cubes being accessed by voice.

Imagine the possibilities for people with sight issues, some of which are already happening, as well as people with mobility issues as it's already happening as well.

It really impacts every piece of software as we know it today.

I'm not talking about the future on 10 or 20 years, I'm saying this is a revolution that is about to happen as the moto goes out in the streets and gets in the hands of users, followed by Glass coming out to the consumer beginning of next year. This will happen fast, in accelerated mode as we're getting used to by now.

As for 33 Labs as a company, we'll keep getting ready for this vision to be fulfilled.
We believe Oktopus our voice/touch workflow engine will be a key component of this shift.

Mark my words: Voice is the new Touch.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Glass main reactions: terrified, meh and ecstatic

As Google reveals their new Glass device it becomes clear that it generates a very polarized spectrum of reactions. Without counting those that have no idea what it is and don't even care to know, which we'll call the meh reaction group, there's two main super extreme reactions groups. Most people who care about Glass are either completely terrified (you could say paranoid, but I won't say it myself) or over the top ecstatic (you could say obsessed but I will only say that about myself).

One thing that always helps me understand processes and the future is looking at graphics, finding patterns that repeat themselves and can shed some light when speculating.

In particular, one of the graphics that helped me understand the Glass reactions is to bring in the curve that technology adoption describes time over time:

Nobody argues with this adoption curve, although some people like Seth Godin argue that the curve is changing as marketers push products faster and stronger into the market, and as consumers get used to this cycle, as I discuss on this previous post.

So, let's analyze in detail the Technology Adoption Lifecycle Graphic and see how it can shed light about Glass reactions and adoption. 

1. The first segment to adopt a new technology are the Innovators. In the case of Glass these are the Glass Explorers, Glass Pioneers like me and everybody that is ecstatic (and yes maybe obsessed) about the idea of wearing Glass even if they have to pay $1,500 (which is well above the expected consumer price) to get them early.

2. The next wave of adopters after the innovators are the Early Adopters. These will be in Glass case the first people that will go to the stores and buy Glass when it's released for consumers. The Early Adopters are a very special segment, because at some point within this group something drastic can happen, something that has the power of start a chain reaction and there is no way back on the adoption of the technology, all the rest of the curve will be an expected unavoidable process. Once "The Chasm" is crossed the curve will continue all the way until the end for a particular tech. This "Crossing the Chasm" concept was introduced and studied by Geoffrey A. Moore. The causes for this process are probably rooted in network scaling, economy and effects that have been also very well studied on this little great book "Linked: How everything is connected to everything else and what it means?". The possible Early Adopters for Glass are at this point probably just observing with some level of interest and curiosity but are not betting their time and money on it yet. Great to have Early Adopters are celebrities and other trend setters, so we can expect and we're seeing a big focus on them at the early stages.

3. The big majority of technology adopters will join the technology lifecycle as "Early Majority". At this point, the product has proven itself to the market, the product has achieved market fit and the majority of the users are aware of this technology and easily join the now super obvious wave. The Early majority right now in the Glass scenario is probably ranging from mildly interested to meh about Glass.

4. The Late Majority is a natural extension of the Early Majority, these are the people that, even if they denied it for years, very recently realized that they need a smartphone and have one. They watched with some level of fear the process as it went along and kept their reserves up until very late. In the case of Glass, the Late Majority first reaction to Glass is somewhere between "I don't need this s..." to "this is scary!".

5. The Laggards are the last group to adopt a technology. In today's world, on the cellphones parallelism, they are the ones that reluctantly adopted a cellphone, after swearing they would never use or need one, and now still have those old cellphones and they claim they're perfectly fine for them, it's all they need. This group is in the case of Glass either terrified or just plain paranoid, and many of them are actively engaging on activism as in "we need to control when/where it can be used" or more like "we have to stop this!".

What can we conclude after doing this analysis?

The adoption curve is following it's natural course as expected and everybody is right on their role:

  • Innovators building, seizing the opportunities and evangelizing for Glass
  • Laggards actively fearfully opposing the development and adoption of Glass
  • and the meh ... well, the meh are not paying much attention right now
All we see are the two extremes of the lifecycle curve, the innnovators and the laggards and if you don't know what's in the middle you could lose perspective and think 50% of the people will love it and 50% will hate it, but it's only the active involved participants at this time and it should change as it flows through the technology adoption lifecycle.

Now, at least to me, everything is starting to make a lot of sense and I can really understand better the scared reactions that are the most foreign to my mindset.

What Glass will continue to do is focus on the Innovators and Early Adopters while leaving the Early and Early Majority open and mildly interested. Once Early Adopters help cross The Chasm there is no looking back.