Will we adopt gesture and voice controls in 2012?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| January 24, 2012

While we talk about the year of 2012, and whether or not it’s going to be months filled with revolution or evolution, I found myself thinking about what lies beyond. Just as I’ve done in the past, I’m wondering if all of those futuristic ideas that seem so out of the way are coming sooner than we ever imagined. Taylor has talked in the past about gesture controls, and right now we’re seeing a push towards more voice-controlled actions on our phones. Which is why I’m wondering if in 2012, seemingly out of the blue, we’re going to see a lot of those practices implemented in new, and staggering ways?

This has me wondering if there’s going to be a point where we just stop using our phones in the ways that we’ve become accustomed to. Let’s face it; we’ve all come to expect our phones to work in a certain way, thanks to the software that we’ve all come to know and love, and the hardware that powers it. We expect our dual-core (or even our upcoming quad-core) phones to work without flaws, or hang-ups. We expect all of that, and that’s when our phones just have proprietary user interfaces like TouchWiz and Sense UI.

And yet at some point here in the future, we’re going to have phones that have entirely different ways to be controlled. There are some people out there who would argue that some high-end devices really aren’t all that optimized at all for every day usage. Phones that slow down over time, or phones that hang-up and lag. While we can’t say whether or not we’ll hear the same complaints when quad-core devices finally make their way to the mainstream consumer base, I can’t help but think that there will still be handsets that don’t impress to every standard that exists.

But, let’s put that aside for a moment. We could play the “what if” game all day long. Instead of being all doom-and-gloom, let’s look at the future that’s supposed to be bright and full of innovation and new ways to use our phones. Truth be told, that’s a pretty exciting situation if you ask me. Taylor asked you not too long ago if you still use Siri, or if you thought it was basically a gimmick. And that plays right along with the future of phones, I think.

And no, it isn’t just because Apple made it, and now there are all sorts of “competitors” out there. No, that really has nothing to do with it. However, you can’t ignore it. The truth is the evolution of our phones is leading to a revolution of the way we use them, even if the hardware and software inside is seeing not such huge leaps – yet. And I can’t help but wonder what “using” our phones will be like when we just sit the device on the counter and talk to it, or use simple hand gestures to move from one home screen to the next.

Could we actually see that implemented this year? Could we see in the next few months HTC, Samsung or Motorola use that front-facing camera for something more than just video chat? Will there be a point this year where Apple unveils the next stage of Siri, and we can run every aspect of our phone just by voice, with a minimal amount of touch needed to accomplish even the most complicated of tasks? And, here’s the big question:

Will people use it? If we’re talking about Siri just being a gimmick right now, is there even time this year where it can take hold and people will start using it? I think that’s the big question, and one of the only reasons I think that manufacturers may start to implement these features in one way or another, but that it won’t actually see a huge adoption this year. This is unfortunate. I’m not exactly sure if gesture controls have a place with our smartphones, but I love the idea of it, and because of that alone I’ll fully support anyone out there –any manufacturer—who goes out on a limb to try and change the very way we use our phones. Besides, who doesn’t want people staring at you while you wave your hand in front of your phone like a crazy person, right?