Is it Time for the Smartwatches to Start Listening Carefully?

smartwatches listening

As Apple says, the Apple Watch is definitely the most personal device they’ve manufactured. Still, the tech giants who have immersed themselves in the rise of the smartwatch industry may not have completely acknowledged what being a personal device can mean.

Unlike a mobile phone, a smartphone can hear almost the same things what your ears can hear. And better hardware will make it hear even better. Now, to go straight to the subject of this article, by continuously listening to your milieu, a smartwatch can meet a novel and as of yet under-utilized resolution – machine learning.

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The whole purpose of machine learning is to allow a software-run machine to recognize what a user is currently doing, while at the same time offering information or an experience that is pertinent to that specific contextual situation. For example, we can apply machine learning on a smartwatch by making it hear the sounds while you’re outside and allowing it to display a specific watch dial better suited to being readable in a surrounding with high light. On the other hand, while leaving a building at night into the outside, your watch dial might automatically activate a backlight in order help you read it in the dark. This would be possible by making the watch recognize simple noises like nighttime insects or sound of less traffic at night.

smartwatches listening
Knight Rider: Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) talking to his smart (?) watch.

By hearing through a listening device and learning what the user is doing, could allow a smartwatch to perform a number of interesting and useful tasks without any type of user interaction. The more your device knows about what you are currently doing, the more it may become helpful when you look at it. In fact, you may discover that your watch is offering you then-relevant information such as the names of the people around you in the room, duration of exercise and even the sound of your breathing which may indicate the need for medical help.

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Currently available smartwatches are equipped with a good mix of sensors in them, including microphones. Almost all the smartwatches offered by big companies will perform comparatively accurate things if you send them voice commands.

Talking to device is becoming more common and the mechanism to transmit sound in almost real time appears to be well developed so far. But, keep in mind that the idea of talking to a watch is nothing new, it goes back to the days of “Knight Rider,” where we saw David Hasselhoff talking to his watch.

Smartwatches are also equipped with sensors such as the ones that measure direction, motion, and barometric pressure along with GPS and in some instances a heart rate monitor.

Basically, by listening smartwatches will learn what the user is currently doing. From that point imagination of the software developers will decide what the user wants to see.