How many electronics within arm’s reach of you right now have a screen? TVs, desktop computers, notebooks, smartphones, dumb phones...all of these have at least one thing in common: we have to look at them in order to use them.
Screens are ingrained in our daily lives, so why on earth did we decide to push for a paradigm shift and create a wearable audio interface, instead of creating a new visual experience like smart glasses? I’m so glad you asked. In this blog post, we’ll talk about the similarities and differences between a Sentien Audio headset and smart glasses, as well as some practical reasons behind our choice of audio over visual.
Sentien Audio vs. Smart Glasses
Both smart glasses and Sentien Audio let you customize which notifications you receive. Not only is this better for digital wellbeing because it avoids the dreaded attention switching and loss of focus, but it’s also more efficient. You’re unlikely to get lost in a social media app when you check your email using smart glasses or when Sentien Audio alerts you to an incoming text message.
Both wearables also let you receive those notifications and respond discreetly. It’s safe to say that by now, if you look at your phone or smart watch, people will assume that you’re switching your attention to the notification you just received, mid-conversation or meeting.
Controls vary among smart glasses; while some include voice commands or touch controls, others require an external device that you have to use to scroll through menus, select actions, or dismiss notifications.
We wanted the most seamless experience possible, without extra things to hold or interact with. Sentien Audio can be controlled with touch, gesture, and voice commands.
Designing the right fit is crucial for both smart glasses and Sentien Audio. The display of a pair of smart glasses has to line up exactly with your eye based on precise measurements, otherwise it will appear fuzzy and hard to read.
Sentien Audio is meant to be worn for the entire day, so the headset is lightweight, flexible, and ergonomically fashioned to comfortably fit all heads (without losing sound quality or causing leakage due to a loose or poor fit).
How many times has this happened to you? You get a text notification so you unlock your phone, answer the text, and then you open Facebook and spend an extra ten minutes on your phone scrolling through your newsfeed. Your smartphone simply is not optimally designed to help you get what you need and finish. It’s designed to grab your attention and keep it.
Wearable technology in general is better for our digital wellbeing as long as it is designed to keep users on task. Both smart glasses and Sentien Audio are task-oriented, meaning you can get what you need efficiently without losing focus and time opening apps you weren’t planning to look at.
But if you decide to check your Twitter feed or look at some photos on Instagram, you don’t have to take off Sentien Audio; in fact, you don’t have to think about the headset at all. It will blend seamlessly into your day until you take it off before bed.
Here’s the biggest difference between smart glasses and Sentien Audio: smart glasses have their own OS, and Sentien Audio is an interface. Smart glasses run apps independently, they’re basically a wearable smartphone.
Sentien Audio is an interface creating a better connection between you and your smartphone. When Sentien Audio connects to your phone, you’ll be able to perform the actions you normally would (search online, make phone calls, send texts, listen to audio, take notes, etc.), without looking at or touching your phone. If your phone can do it, then Sentien Audio can do it more efficiently and with fewer distractions.
Both smart glasses and Sentien Audio allow for customization. You can decide which notifications you want to receive and when, for example. But since smart glasses run their own operating systems, you’re limited to the apps that developers are able to make available.
Instead of making our own OS, we wanted to lower the barrier to developing or connecting other apps as much as possible. We made an interface that cooperates with a smartphone's OS to give iOS and Andriod developers better accessibility, making your favorite apps easy to integrate to use with Sentien Audio.
You’ll be able to set up your own custom controls for apps. If you listen to podcasts, for example, you’ll be able to set up controls like “Tap once to pause,” “Swipe down to skip forward,” all within the Sentien app.
We've covered some differences and similarities between smart glasses and our audio interface headset, Sentien Audio. Now let's take a peek behind the curtain and find out some practical reasons behind our decision to build an audio interface.
When we started thinking about ways to improve human-computer interactions (AKA the way we use our technology), we took into account what was possible based on technological advancements at the time.
- To make something wearable for the entire day, we needed a long lasting battery, which simply wasn’t an option for a wireless wearable.
- To make something comfortable and discreet, we needed to keep the design lightweight and portable. Most other wearable designs were bulky, heavy, and uncomfortable to use, simply due to limitations at the time. We realized that in the audio industry, the technology was there for both battery efficiency and miniaturization, enabling us to design for comfort and subtlety.
- To make something people wanted to wear, we needed to learn from wearables that came before us. Which brings us to the final reason: privacy.
We take user privacy extremely seriously, and we wanted to create something that would meet our standards. Let’s reminisce for a moment about the early 2010s, when the then-named future of wearable tech was released to an exclusive few: Google Glass.
You don’t see anyone walking around with Google smart glasses, over 6 years later, so what went wrong? Why did Google switch to enterprise instead of consumers?
A product with huge potential also had a fatal flaw: that pesky embedded camera. Suddenly people realized they could be recorded without permission, and without being aware of it. The backlash was strong, proving that consumers were simply not on board with that kind of invasive experience.
Hopefully you've gotten a clear picture of how smart glasses measure up to Sentien Audio, along with a sneak peek behind our thought process when we got started on this project. Wearable technology is more and more widely acceptable thanks to mass adoption of smart watches and hearables like Airpods; Sentien Audio is leading the way on the road to a truly seamless human-computer interaction in the future.