I write about technology, media and societies.

Hearable is Not The Future of Technology

The conversation used to be around Wearable technology, and now the next shiny technology is hearable, which seems to be more interesting to me even when I know it is just what it is – another shiny technology! 

Technology created a new kind of inequality, and this kind of inequality ranges from literacy to semi-literate, and what I mean by this word is; because you are learned does not say you will be able to operate a necessary software like Microsoft Word, which is the literacy inequality and the semi-literate has to do with those in the rural community and some urban community who cannot read nor right, these sets of people are automatically at a disadvantaged on using technology.

Also, this sets of newly discovered or I say old problems that are tackling technology all lead to the end of the same tunnel – the intention of technology usage.

While studying a paper on Polly, I was fascinated on how it was used to reach low literate people in Pakistan, and at that stage, I become more interested in speech technology, but this area is way beyond the scope of my study and rather than moving away from it, I tried to study it critically.

For one to understand why technology is still disadvantaged and while mobile phone works on a continent like Africa with its diverse ethnics and languages then one would need to understand communication or I say, medium of media.

Computers with its iconography and displays already limit itself to the seeing (visual) sense until a sound was added to it and it should be noted here that man has moved from images to text-based communication since a long time ago (beginning of world war 2, I think).

The history of the medium of communication would be of better explanation here, and I would start my comment in this area through the dissecting of human interaction.

In the past, as human, we used to communicate through images and till date, human brain process more than sixty percent images daily (not really), and this led to the reason why the picture is the primary sensor of learning for the early stage development of a child.

Just as the Gutenberg printing machine was created, the man moves to a text-based communication, and somehow, we started to lose our sense of image communication (maybe until recently with the emoticon) and the next medium of communication asides the radio uses more of a text-based media.

From computer to newspapers, texts are the primary driver of communication, and this poses the same failure that computer/technology raises and for you as a man to be able to use this medium, you have to be literate (speak the computer language).

What happens to those who cannot read or write? They stick to the radio and or television since these are the primary medium that does not require literacy since they are communicating in the language that these people is already familiar with. It is of no news any more that radio and television used to be and still is the most significant medium of communication (well maybe not, considering how social media is the next propaganda machine, thanks to Facebook).

At a point in the past, Buckminster Fuller when asked how Indians can show interest in science, he advised that they should be sent some radio which he believes will encourage them to study science. 

In all due regards to the success of the received media of radio & television and why it works and why mobile phone works in Africa, then one would want to conclude that it is all because of the organ of sense that was used – sound and this, provided more insight to why hearable may be the next big thing (not really ?).

However, to me, I still feel that hearable is unnecessary, maybe rethinking of radio technology could be of more importance and use than hearable since the hearable is going to deal with much voice sensitizing and speech recognition which may be a bit difficult because of the accent of the different users of technology in the world (I still have issues getting Siri to understand my accent ?).

This hearable too would pose the problem of inequality of technology since the speech engine would be sensitising more of language like English and western languages, not to forget the major player of this technology (Amazon, Apple and Google) and as such, we will be back to where we are right now on the use of technology. 

Lastly, it should be noted here that the current challenge of technology is dominant because of the primary driver of technology for development which is mostly the employers and the few oligarchies who are only interested in how to use the medium of technology to increase on their bottom line and as such, it can be seen clearly from the Fast Company article up ?? that the tech giants are only interested in this technology so they can get their home devices into more homes and as such, we are all back to where we used to be.

Technology is not solving human problem because we are not really interested in solving the problem.

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