Voice still the final frontier for input.

When I caught the news about BT buying Ribbit I took notice. Why?

Because.

Because I know JP enough (podcast) to know it’s got significance for the future.
Because I know the power of voice as the primary means of communication to build relationship.
Because I believe culture creates the technology it needs to fulfill its desires.

So I wandered over to Ribbit and watched the announcement video (very clever guys).

Acquisition video : http://www.ribbit.com/video/ted/ted_jp.swf
Ribbit : http://www.ribbit.com/
BT : http://www.bt.com/

With the Ribbit purchase, it certainly seems the rest of the net seems to be latching on to the idea of ‘web enabled phone calling’ – which of course makes perfect sense. When I mentioned the acquisition to Mike he was quick to draw the comparison to Ebay’s purchase of Skype where maybe Ebay saw Skype as a way to voice-enable transactions that initiate on the auction site (even though that puts transaction before conversation).

However I want to draw a line to somewhere else, based on something I’d read from David Weinberger’s blog a week or so before, that popped immediately into my mind when thinking about the Ribbit news.

David had been lamenting the method of editing audio and wondered why we couldn’t have a method where spoken audio gets converted to text, we edit the text and then the audio gets automatically edited and reassembled according to the edited text.

Editing audio by editing text : http://snipurl.com/editingaudio  [www_hyperorg_com]

With the release of the iPhone, the pervasive success of touch pads on laptops, and the fascination of Microsoft Surface technology and the surface sphere, it seems we are well on the start of the way to touch nirvana.

iPhone : http://www.apple.com/iphone/
Microsoft Surface : http://www.microsoft.com/surface/
Sphere : http://blog.ted.com/2008/07/microsoft_surfa.php
Touch barrier : http://snipurl.com/touchbarrier  [lifekludger_net]

There remains the last bastion of successful input – voice.

Sure, speech recognition has been getting better and better, but not to the point of wide adoption and nowhere near mass market penetration. And certainly not in a way that enables easy, on the fly, sporadic input – and importantly not mobile. Even though some services like Jott are proving popular.

Jott: http://www.jott.com/

But it will come, for the same reason that touch came – because it’s natural, effective and personal and it enhances easer than most things our most basic need for connection.

So just maybe I can see that voice is on the upswing as an input method. And there’s a growing drive to develop voice to text applications. To use our voices for further augmenting our bodies seemingly insatiable need for effective, creative output.

Nothing can replace our human need for connection. And nothing connects like conversation. And for conversation, even in short form, there’s nothing quite like voice.

That’s why when a telco buys a voice software company, with JP in the mix, I take notice.

Because : http://www.itgarage.com/node/736

Dave

Image: ‘Levanta la voz’ – www.flickr.com/photos/62518311@N00/87225176

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