Speech, Not Silence, Is Golden

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As a follow-up to my March/April column about speech becoming ubiquitous in mobile devices (“Mobility Ubiquity”), I have an update about a unique mobile device to share. Every once in a while a product has the potential to bowl people over when the benefits of using it are so readily apparent. Voice messaging, at its inception, was such a technology; the BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Kindle were others. Golden-i is set to join this rarefied class of products. 

Golden-i is the brainchild of Kopin, a semiconductor company that is the largest U.S. manufacturer of micro displays for use in everything from digital cameras to personal eyewear. Introduced a year ago, Golden-i has been refined and is now being launched into the market. It uses the Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 operating system, embedded in a lightweight, Bluetooth- and WiFi-enabled headset, along with a micro display that is positioned below a user’s normal line of sight. 

What the user gets is a complete visual display that mimics a 15-inch PC screen, which appears 18 inches in front of him. This provides the user with visual, remote, hands-free wireless access to his PC and applications. Golden-i uses Nuance’s VoCon 3200 speech recognition engine, along with Dragon Naturally Speaking for command and control and dictation. It currently supports eight languages. Additionally, the unit features an embedded six-axis, solid-state head tracker, along with advanced display gesture control. This combination allows the user to access applications, documents, pictures, or video, for example, and to perform such functions as zoom in or out, scroll, or pan by using either speech or hand gestures. For example, a user could call up a blueprint by voice and view it entirely by turning his head to pan the drawing. 

The unit provides support for multimedia so a user can, for example, call up and stream a video with full-color DVD quality. The device sports a video camera so a user can take and send videos and pictures. 

Golden-i also supports multiple devices at the same time. It pairs with PCs, cell phones, or handheld industrial devices, giving users a choice of options. 

Sell-itself applications include any job that requires hands-free work. For example, warehouse applications are a natural fit for Golden-i; workers on the warehouse floor can see pick lists or update data fields. Delivery drivers, who are always handling packages, will be able to update delivery information or access delivery instructions hands-free. 

Service technicians in the field also stand to benefit. With Golden-i, they will be able to access schematics, drawings, documents, or pictures to assist in their work, update work in progress or closed work orders, and send a picture or video to support staff to help diagnose a problem or report a condition. Golden-i eliminates the need to carry laptops into the field, thereby removing problems associated with trying to view a computer screen in conditions with a lot of sunlight. 

The unit will really come in handy among users for whom it is not possible or conducive to be near their PCs. For example, a utility worker on a pole can still see all the screens that need updating or job specifications without having to go to his truck. A paramedic working on a patient will be able to see vital-sign information without having to stop what he’s doing. Military personnel will be able to get vital logistical information hands-free. Even a football coach on the field would be able to access replays or playbook information if available. 

Golden-i is being manufactured by Motorola and will be available in wrap-around or traditional headset style. It has already won awards: It received the Vision Award in the commercial products category from the Technology Services Industry Association at its annual meeting and won the MobileTrax Award for 2010 Mobile Technology Innovation of the Year at the Cellular Technology Industry Association Conference in March.

Nancy Jamison is principal analyst at Jamison Consulting. She can be reached at nsj@jamisons.com.

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