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The World of NOUI


Sep 17, 2016
A CEDIA Talk imagines a planet with “No User Interface”

By Ed Wenck

LK1_6740

Just as Voice User Interface arrives to disrupt our little universe, along comes someone to tell us it’s about to be obsolete.

OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole – but consider the source telling us that we’ll soon need to embrace #NOUI (that’s NO User Interface): Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.AI. That was the man’s message at a CEDIA Talk on the final day of the show in Dallas.

But before we get to the NO, let’s look at where we’ve been – GUI – and where we are arriving – VUI.

The earliest interfaces were simple, physical things: on/off light switches, notes Capecelatro. Digital interfaces were a big step forward – easily changeable when it came to function. A button on a touch screen can be programmed to do a vast number of things beyond a binary function that takes a room from light to dark. (And that button doesn’t need to change its physical nature.)

But how many apps can you keep track of on your phone? You’re deleting some right now, aren’t you?

Now think about voice control. In Capecelatro’s estimation, telling the VUI to turn off the light switch isn’t really the proper use of the technology. A switch is more intuitive, anyway – when you walk into any home, you already know to flip that light on, dial that temperature down, fire that stove up, whatever. The beauty of voice begins when you string multiple commands together.

“Bring living room lights down 42 percent, preheat the oven to 350, and crank up Adele in the kitchen,” Capecelatro illustrates, speaking to a fictional house of the near future.

So, after years and years of talking about it, VUI is arriving. So why now?

Two words: availability and accuracy.


In 2016, machines have cracked the 90 percent mark when it comes to recognizing words accurately.



In the year 2000, 15 percent of Americans had broadband access to the internet. By 2010, that number hit 94 percent. That speed to the cloud and back makes the next steps possible.

And in 2016, machines have cracked the 90 percent mark when it comes to recognizing words accurately.

The latter’s why you hear people claim “Siri sucks,” according to Capecelatro. Siri entered the market just ahead of the last leap in proper voice recognition.

So now that we’ve arrived at the VUI tipping point (a monumentally big topic at CEDIA 2016 and a subject we’ll be digging into next with CEDIA’s Tech Council over at cedia.net), Alex wants us ready to embrace #NOUI.

To be honest, what Capecelatro’s presenting as a vision of the future isn’t a “none of the above” proposition – rather, it’s ALL of the above, and a bunch of things we’ve yet to mention.

#NOUI imagines a universe that anticipates your actions after learning your habits. If your home knows you need the kitchen light to come on when you come home – and can recognize that it’s you and you alone in your household who desires that particular function – that’s a really simple illustration of the NOUI concept in action.

So how do we get there? By combining existing technologies, that’s how.

First up: A.I. It’s really machine learning. The bot that is your house recognizes your patterns, and reacts properly and accordingly – or better yet, anticipates properly and accordingly.

Second: Image recognition. Who’s at the door? Someone you want to come in, or not? And beyond that, what are you pointing at when you speak the words “Turn it up!” into the air?

(A caveat: The potential wrinkle here is the comfort level – or lack thereof — the consumer will have when he or she is essentially on camera 24/7, 365. Will there be a backlash when everyone’s being monitored at the level of the main character in The Truman Show?)

Third: Virtual reality. Capecelatro isn’t quite sure yet just how a big ol’ set of viewing goggles will impact the #NOUI future. Because the pace of technology is absolutely ripping along, though, it’s a fair bet it’ll have some eventual impact. (An aside: For the home tech pro in the near term specifically, imagine being able to put those googles on a potential customer to help them virtually view their home with a big screen there, a new smart stove there – that’d be a heck of a sales and planning tool, eh?)

And lastly: Augmented reality. The ability to put your hologram-generated colleagues in a conference room will one day translate into having holo-Grammy in your kid’s bedroom, reading Goodnight Moon to your tykes.

Switches and tablets and smartphones aren’t going away tomorrow, of course. But the intersection of all of our present-and-near-future advancements will generate the #NOUI world (working in tandem with integrators), as long as we follow Capecelatro’s directives:

1. Embrace typical processes instead of screens (what we DO, not what we touch).
2. Leverage computers instead of serving them (‘nuff said for now in this limited space).
3. Adapt to individuals.

Set the sci-fi nightmares aside. The machines are about to become the servants once again — and connected to the IoT, they’ll be the most loyal and considerate partners we can possibly conjure.


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