Have You Been Talking with Your Phone?

Have You Been Talking with Your Phone?

The human brain consumes a lot of energy and so it, when it can, saves it. Some would call it laziness, but it’s a matter of optimization anyway. So, we prefer to use Waze and Google Maps than thinking on the directions to ride. We prefer to type in WhatsApp than to speak by voice in a phone call. A late aunt of mine forbade her husband to use the GPS so he wouldn’t get senile. In a way, in her simplicity she had a certain wisdom.

Returning to the issue of voice use, we have a greater tendency to press than to speak. It is not uncommon to perceive colleagues who work very closely to prefer to use Skype or other tools than talk. However, while technology contributes to atrophy of voice communication, it is itself rescuing speech in other scenarios.

I admit I’m shy about talking to devices that recognize and accept commands by voice: Cortana, Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, Bixby among so many others. I have this shyness mainly in the presence of other people. When I’m alone I try to train enough commands with Google Home, Cortana, Alexa and Bixby mostly. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, Bixby is better integrated with smartphone hardware. So, I can turn on/off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Flash, screen lock, increase/decrease audio volume, close all applications, optimize the smartphone only using voice commands: Hey Bixby, close all apps! Hey Bixby, optimize the phone!

While Bixby and Siri are better integrated into the hardware, Google Assistant is better at content issues or Google solutions: Waze, Maps, photos, etc. So often I combine the use of more than one wizard.  So I unlock by voice using the Bixby and other active command by Google Assistant: “Hey Bixby, unlock the phone! Ok Google, navegar para a CINQ!”
Note that some solutions are not yet ready for the Portuguese language, so speaking in English is necessary. Also, you can’t make pauses a little long or stutter because the commands are not understood correctly.  This causes frustration and perhaps explains the shyness in conversation with machines.  

Driving and typing is something extremely dangerous and causes many fatalities, which has caused great educational campaigns around the world. A viable alternative, but which still requires a lot of care, is voice communication with the smartphone is to make a connection, to indicate an address to the GPS app or to play a song on Spotify. Voice-to-wheel commands reduce the risks and facilitate the operation of the smartphone, but the care and responsibility for driving are priority and always deserve our concentration. 

I have practiced my fluency in conversations with these voice attendants daily to develop these new skills. Several call center systems with automated attendance are already active and will be more common. There is no point in complaining and fighting this trend, so training and this new learning is fundamental. 

By Carlos Alberto Jayme


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