Hello, world …can you hear me (dreaming) now?

Amazon’s Alexa, hal 9000,Google Home, Apple Airpods

No, I don’t own the latest iPhone. I don’t own Airpods.

But Airpods have activated my imagination and excitement for the future of conversational UX that finally seems like more than just a distant dream.

Audio UX has been frustrating, to say the least. It is like I have been trying to find my soulmate for years… I desperately want to break up with my phone, but I cannot seem to fall in love with anyone else ….yet.

Image by Apple

My relationship with my Alexa is like a long distance love affair. She is beautiful and does a few things really well but we don’t see each other often enough. Our love just isn’t getting stronger over time. I feel somewhat cheated because she sold me on the fact that this long distance relationship was a temporary thing. I am still waiting for her to move back into town. I got all excited recently when she said she would work with my Sonos very soon …only to learn that the “very soon” is not until 2017.

Siri seems like an old friend I have known forever. She was ahead of her times for sure but has definitely slowed down since. She is so grounded that she honestly seems like no fun. Certainly not someone I will walk into the sunset with…

Image by Amazon

Google Now? She….is solid tech. Google understands me(my accent) better than anyone else but she often feels a lot like my 15- year-old dog that has lost her hearing. I need to get up so close to my dog/phone to be heard …. that I’d rather just use the leash/keyboard to get her to come along.

So there, conversational UX has just not worked out for me. I desperately want to break up with my phone but I cannot seem to fall in love with anyone else ….yet.

I cannot lie …the proliferation of screens is making me less efficient. It adds stress and it makes me run further and faster away from the device dependent and overwhelmed life that I live.

It gets harder to write and harder to read …the sheer amount of self discipline it takes to focus on a task is appalling.

But Airpods have me all excited now and I have started to dream.

I dream of the day I never have to touch my phone.

I dream of the day I don’t need to start and stop devices to track my runs.

I dream of the Friday night “button” I could activate to turn on a Friday night mode before I come home.

Image by Google

With Airpods, Apple has sent message to the rest of the companies out there to play the game faster and harder, because the time has come for conversational UX to become ubiquitous.

The failure of Amazon’s phone meant Amazon needed a whole other device to be your conversational interface. Amazon did that really well with the Echo. Google is now trying to play catch-up with Google Home.

Strategically, these companies fight to take control over my home and understand my shopping, my living habits, my preferences. They want to “own” me, my family and my home. My struggle is different, however. I struggle to release myself from my phone. I want the phone to “be there” for me without being enslaved to it. That, right there, is the real value exchange.

I hope that out there in these massive corporations, there are product managers dreaming the same dream.

Imagine a world where people could just be ….

Imagine a world where people could take time to look others while they spoke …

Imagine a world where people would soak in the scenes around them as they commuted to work, walked around in their neighborhoods?

Imagine a world people would really listen?

A world where people would use their hands the way they were meant to be — making and creating, sensing and tinkering.

Imagine a world where life is simplified … because it is high time.

It is exhausting to repeatedly get my phone out and take a picture, write a note, send an email. I long for a life that is simpler and technology is truly ubiquitous. I am exhausted being a slave to my phone.

I want to go back to just using my senses the way they were meant to be used and Alexa, Siri are just hanging out like family. Sort of creepy and exciting, all at once. But I think we are so close.

Pano of the mountains I run on

I see a future where we have our time back, we have attention back and a future where we will really experience life.

We will come home from work and find that our shopping is done for us. We head back into the backyard to grab the fresh seasonal veggies for a salad/dinner. Parents make dinner with the kids or parents cook while kids actively learn by asking/sharing with the adults and their “listeners” (devices). The home becomes a shared experience space, a learning space for the whole family.

Alexa/Siri knows what we like to do as a family on weekends. On Saturday mornings, she will tell us about the mountains we can climb or art shows we might love. With more time away from everyday chores, we go back into our libraries, we engage in our local communities and we use our voices to change the world. We spend time with our aging parents. We hang out with our kids. We see friends.

How incredible would that be? How uncomfortable would that be? How primitive. And how incredibly terrifying and freeing.

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