I’ve had a lot of cool opportunities to try living with wearable devices like Google Glass, Android Wear, and even making my own makeshift wrist-worn phone many years ago. I’ve seen the benefits and inconveniences in each of them, and the feature that I have found to be the most useful of them has been timely notifications. Being hands-free aware of your environment and the world can empower your decisions and guide your live in positive ways. However, some devices are socially intrusive (Glass) or give off the wrong message to others (checking a smartwatch when it buzzes makes people think you are late or bored). I decided that my ideal smart notifier would almost be like a brain implant in which you instantly knew when breaking news happened, or your friend asked for you to meet, or if was about to rain, even if you were riding a bike.
I didn’t make a brain implant, but I did find a small bluetooth earbud which my phone can talk to me through and does everything I wanted! It’s so easy and awesome I’m surprised it’s not more popular of an idea these days. I call the software ESP after the classic psychic fake phenomenon of extrasensory perception. I can use any bluetooth headset or a wired headset and I keep adding new features to empower my daily experience. Recently I was biking and I heard a voice in my ear that said “Facebook message: Rebecca. Hey I just saw you go by!” and I stopped and went back to see my friend. Also, while working I can listen to music and every hour the music gets quieter and says “Your first task is shop for a bike and the time is three o’clock” because it is tied to my task list. Biking turn-by-turn directions have also made my commute super enjoyable. People also have surprisingly not noticed it much, especially my new one which goes behind my ear. I do get these moments where I feel like I have super power or something when I’m with some friends and someone messages our group message on facebook or hangouts with an update and I share it without missing a beat or pulling out a phone “Oh, sound like Nick’s on his way.” This is fun. Also, I have CNN, The Onion, The Verge, and Elon Musk’s twitter stream read to me, which is fun. It may sound like a lot, but these are really short messages and easy to ignore. I set it up too so that if you ignore them during a conversation (easy to do in one ear) then you can tap the side to toggle through the history. I can also tap at any time to hear the time and the song playing if there is one. No need for a watch any more!
My app has been pretty customized to my own needs (my task list and preferences for weather, twitter, and news feeds) so I haven’t worked on publishing it. There are cool apps out there already for speaking See Voice Notify
and let you make sure that it doesn’t speak when headphones or bluetooth headsets aren’t connected (awkward).
In a broader sense I could see this being a great tool for teams collaborating, and even medical professionals who could get pager emergency messages discretely spoken to them to allow them to not have to interrupt people around them with their own beeper loudly going off. I’ve also seen people working in shopping store and security guards with similar discrete headsets, and I think they aren’t the only people who could benefit from them. Now if only you could send a message by thinking.. I did already make a wireless bluetooth remote that I can send texts to people and queue up music without looking with, but it relies on my knowledge of morse code input which I don’t expect other people to learn haha.