Wearable Tech World Feature Article
June 16, 2015

Nuance and APX Labs Collaborate on Voice Controls for Smart Glasses

There's often been one big problem cited with smart glasses: controls. Sure, smart glasses are a natural fit for display, but how to tell smart glasses what to display and when can sometimes be problematic. There's no keyboard, no mouse—many of the common interface methods are unavailable. But one is still around, and that's one that Nuance and APX Labs are teaming up to put into play: voice.

More specifically, the Nuance/APX Labs co-production is centered on Skylight Voice, a voice-driven tool mostly powered by Nuance Communications' voice technology, which is likely most familiar in the form of the Dragon Naturally Speaking line of transcription software. Skylight Voice will support over 25 different languages, and will be able to offer a variety of commands in what is called a simple, natural way. Given that, according to APX Labs, one in five adults is currently working in a job where wearable technology and voice interactions would be useful—particularly given as said adults are working with hands occupied—so there's likely a market for this technology.

APX Labs' CEO and co-founder, Brian Ballard, offered up some comment on this system, saying “Nuance and APX Labs are reinventing the relationship between people and the tools they use to work. By integrating Nuance's voice technology into Skylight, employees will be able to build, fix, move and operate things with real-time and hands-free access to mission critical information.” Based on that, it's easy to think that this isn't so much about a new piece of technology as it is a means to take what already exists, and make it easier to work with.

We're already seeing a lot of competitors come into the wearable tech market, and with a lot of competitors, that can make it tough for each to make a value case known. But if there's an add-on system that can help to make the distinction, it goes from “Brand X smart glasses” to “Brand X smart glasses—now with Skylight Voice controls!”. That can take a product from “just another one” to “the gotta-have-it model”.  When smart glasses are all basically doing the same thing, that makes add-on features essential to differentiate and establish value in the market. Competing on a price-only basis isn't usually a way to great success, but offering better quality or new options, is. Nuance and APX Labs might just be working on a “great equalizer” of sorts, a means for one company—the company that makes the best offer for licensing—to offer value only the best can match.

There's still quite a bit left unsaid about this development, particularly in regard to where it will show up first, and how it will finally operate when put into practice, what commands it will acknowledge, and much more. But this could be the start of something big, and could be the kind of thing that takes a lesser-known smart glasses system and turns it into the next big development in wearable tech

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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