Improving our relationships with our phones through natural interfaces

Screen time. We get a lot of it.

The evolution of the screen is the story of efficiency and attention. Think about it: Information and art was originally taken in on big old movie screens for hours at a time, but in relatively small doses. A movie or two a week. Then came TV’s. The screens got smaller, but the doses became more frequent with sitcoms and nightly news programs. A few hours every day, perhaps more on the weekends.

Now we live in a landscape of near endless screens and displays. Billboards are screens. Our computers, obviously, that we spend much of day on, are screens. Our phones, our watches and of course, our TVs. Screens are everywhere, and the doses we take in of screen time are at shorter, but much more frequent.

So how do we make our devices help us in this new landscape? First, we don’t allow ourselves to be limited to the screen. We design apps that take advantage of all the capabilities of our phones, apps that use natural interfaces and enable us to change our relationship with the screen, and our devices.

Scarlet is an app that utilizes speech and language to convey the key pieces of information that allow us to plan and orchestrate our days. There’s no real reason we need to look at our phones first thing in the morning to find out the weather, or what happened in the news.

We “know that technology has the profound potential to enhance our experience of the world around us, rather than distract us from it,” says designer Yves Behar. “Information and action (can be) woven into our lives so discreetly that, if it weren’t for the magical experiences it creates, we would forget it is there.”

The magical experience we’re building uses the power of audio to allow us to interact free from the screen.

When Scarlet delivers an audio session, you can leave your phone on your couch, your bed, in your pocket while taking the subway to work, or on the sink when you’re in the shower, and just listen. It’s easy, natural and fully customizable. It’s your personalized briefing for your day, no screen required.

We know that we, and Yves Behar, are not the only ones thinking about this. Plenty of other startups and companies are out there right now that are building the future with natural interfaces. We just happen to be the ones doing it in this specific way.

Screens, and distractions, aren’t going away anytime soon, but we can at least build tools that make living with them easier, and a bit more natural.