I’m a trekkie. Not certified or anything, and I was raised on Star Trek TNG, not Classic, but I’ve also been to a few Comic Cons, and saw all the movies; in theater and on TV. Enterprise was underrated but Jolene Black as T’Pol could get me to switch sides.
What is interesting about the Star Trek series, from Classic to Enterprise and all the movies, is how little impact a voice controlled computer interface really had, Majel Barrett’s early roles notwithstanding. For an advanced civilization a few hundreds years into the future, Star Trek’s computer was anemic and the voice controlled interface mostly apathetic; seemingly a few generations ahead of Apple’s Siri.
Digital Snark Companion
Microsoft’s Cortana sounds more human, and Google’s Google Now (what a stupid name for what should be a humanized service) may have more functionality, but it’s Siri that already demonstrates some of what I want to see more of in the future as my automated and humanized digital companion. A little attitude, some snark and sympathy, all bordering on self awareness.
Siri is showing up everywhere there’s an Apple logo these days except the Mac. Siri on iPhone and iPad work great, and already there are plenty of useful options for Siri on Watch (you still need an iPhone nearby but it’s easy to envision as standalone watch– and Siri– in just a few years). Siri has more of a real humanized personality than Cortana or Google Now, and I think that’s exactly what people will be attracted to in the future.
Guess what? Siri also shows up in the new Apple TV and responds well when asking for information, but less so for interactive interaction. Ask Siri to search, pause a TV show or movie, fast forward, and the like are expected. But Siri, from a listening perspective, translates “What did she say?” as a request to stop the video and back up a bit so you can catch what someone said. Cool, right?
Siri does not work everywhere, but Apple has supplied app developers with tools to integrate some of Siri’s commands and responses so as the tvOS platform grows with more apps, Siri will become more deeply integrated into the Apple TV system.
That brings me to a string of commands I want to see and anticipate that Siri will handle over the next few years as we await an Apple TV 5 with 4k support. What would you add to this list?
- Siri, what’s the weather going to be today?
- Siri, what’s the traffic along 101 to SFO?
- Siri, please turn the volume up (or, down)?
- Siri, please dim the living room lights, and turn up the AC.
- Siri, add potatoes, cabbage, and chuck roast to my shopping list.
- Siri, open a FaceTime connection to my parent’s home in Las Vegas.
- Siri, please start the car and turn the air conditioner on high.
- Siri please lock all the doors at home.
You see where this is going, right? But those requests, and hence that part of the interaction, is one way only. I want Siri to open up and be more humanized than either I, Robot or Bicentennial Man and be able to sense situations based upon context.
Bambi, are you OK? That’s the third time this week your boss yelled at you.
That means Siri could interact with humans in a different way than expected, and far differently than Siri does today. I’m thinking along these lines.
Bambi, do you want me to have your boss’s car stall on the Golden Gate Bridge during rush hour today?
That works for me.