As fun as Siri is on the iPhone 4S, you still need to push a button to get her to speak to you. With the Samsung Galaxy S III, users will be able to start interacting with their phones without ever touching them, thanks in part to technology from a small company called Sensory.
We’re not talking about S Voice, Samsung‘s Siri clone. What Sensory does is the trick that lets you wake up the phone from a sleeping state. As described at the unveiling of the Galaxy S III, all a user has to do is say the phrase, “Hi Galaxy” (Samsung says it supports up to four customized commands) for the phone to wake up. At that point the user can start using S Voice to perform actions like checking the weather.
It may not seem like much, but that little detail of getting the phone to wake up via a voice command — which Sensory calls “TrulyHandsfree” — is one of the trickiest. For the phone to be continuously listening for a key phrase, with the microphone activated, power efficiency is essential.
On the Galaxy S III, the feature is integrated into Android, but that makes it less efficient than it could be. Users will need to specifically activate the function, and Samsung says it’s really meant for situations when waking up the phone by hand isn’t an option — such as when driving a car.
“[Android] forces a lot of things to happen by the nature of the OS,” says Sensory CEO Todd Mozer. “There are things we wanted to turn off but we couldn’t.”
Sensory is working on building the functionality directly into the phone’s processor, which could result in enormous power savings, CEO Todd Mozer says. That would enable future handsets to leave the feature permanently engaged, with very little consequence to the battery, at least in theory.
“We think the magic in it is to leave it always on and always listening,” he says. “Right now it consumes too much power to do that. Samsung’s done a really intelligent thing and created a listening mode. We want to go beyond that and make it always on, always listening no matter where you are.”
Besides listening for a specific passphrase, TrulyHandsfree tech can actually pick out who exactly is speaking. While the feature isn’t in the Galaxy S III, it would be more useful in multi-user devices like tablets or laptops anyway. Once the speaker wakes up the device with the phrase, the tech could theoretically use the voice’s identity to log into all the apps.
What do you think of Sensory’s tech and the trend toward more voice control in general? Share your thoughts in the comments.