Thursday, January 1, 2009

Coming Soon: the SpiPhone.

It won't be long before every mobile phone call you make is stored on some server and converted to full-text and indexed for easy access.

Some people worry that the government monitors our private conversations, but I think it will be us who give away our privacy voluntarily because it will make our lives more convenient.

How many times have you wished you could remember exactly what someone said or what you said to someone over the phone? You get in the car and suddenly blank on why you're there. You access your recent calls by saying, "Find Mum today" until you hear mum's voice, "Johnny, be a good boy and go round the shops and pick us up a packet of crisps." And you remember, and drive off to get your mom a snack. (Sorry for my fake English "mum," but I just saw The Bank Job, so I'm temporarily suffering from Foreign Accent Syndrome.)

Voice recognition keeps getting better and storage is cheap, so it shouldn't be long before your cell phone can offer this service. Whatever you say will be converted from audio to text and available for email, or even blackmail. Imagine being able to produce a transcript of any call you make to prove someone said something they now claim they never said? Cool, huh? And fucking terrifying. Do you really want a written account of everything you say on the phone? As a testament to our pathetic worthless lives? (How many times do you say, y'know or right or um over the phone? Or just laugh and say something unintelligible?)

I'm guessing this is available now, right? Does the iPhone have this? How hard can it be? I know there are levels of this available now, but I'm talking about searchable data, about talking on the phone and then retrieving information from that call at a later time by requesting a search through every word that was said during the conversation. Maybe I'm wrong about the amount of storage or processing power needed to convert analog audio to digital and then to text and then to index it all. I see that the BlackBerry can currently only covert up to 3 minutes of speech to text.

So if it isn't available now, it should be soon. I guess the question then would be, how important is convenience? I always say, The road to Hell is paved with Convenience.

On a side note, I am playing with a text to voice site at AT&T and making Juliette, a French voice say to me, "Oh baby, you are the best." And I think I'm in love.