Years ago, the promise of technology advancement was about voice activation. We all marvelled at prototype robots that could respond to our voice commands and enthusiastically envisioned how household chores would become an armchair activity.
Voice activated robots never really became mainstream, but voice directed call centres did proliferate whether we approve of them or not. If you’re like me, you dread making an airline booking using voice activation. It’s impersonal and makes me feel like I don’t have control of the interaction. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook how frustrated he was using a voice activated system and yelled the “F*bomb” into the phone. The automated system responded, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand your command.”
Compare voice activation to the touch screen. Ahhh… now we’re talking. Tablets, mobile phones, MP3 players all have what I call, “the mesmerizing factor.” I’m completely engrossed by any interaction that involves a touch screen. I feel in control. My online banking experience has never been so satisfying.
Another friend of mine yesterday was trying to convince me to upgrade my mobile phone. She explained how great it is to have all of her email and music in one place, but then she lit up when talking about all of the applications she can play with on her phone. “I can spend hours dusting through all of my applications and never get bored,” she said. “Phones are so much more than just voice and data!”
I’m not sure I have hours to spend “dusting” on my mobile phone, but it made me realize how the quality of our technology experiences is becoming both personal and an expectation. Touch screen technology is something we feel “connected” to because we can touch it, sense it and ultimately control it, which is a far cry from barking an order at a robot.