This project's funding goal was not reached on November 21, 2013.
This project's funding goal was not reached on November 21, 2013.
XOWi is a small wearable badge that enables you to engage in voice interactions without hijacking your hands and eyes. One push on your smart badge (just like the Star Trek Communicator), let go and speak. No screens to look at or phones to hold.
"What's better than Siri or Google Maps? XOWi is" - ZDNET
"Apple would be smart to either buy this tech start-up and integrate this voice service into Siri, or steal this idea and build their own which mirrors the XOWi." -- Tekatron
"It won’t be long until we are walking around wearing tiny badges that we talk into to get stuff done like in Star Trek. Oh wait. That day is just about here. Beam me up." -- Crunchwear
"The XOWi concept is a groundbreaking way to get the benefits of computing while keeping the distractions of operating a user interface to an absolute minimum. This device will be an enormously valuable addition to all of our daily lives." -- Dr. Debbie Dahl, Principal, Conversational Technologies
"XOWi truly turns Star Trek into reality!" -- The VUI Design Blog
"Wearable computing is emerging as a significant new trend in our industry, and XOWi is superbly positioned to take full advantage of the growing enthusiasm in this area." -- K. W. "Bill" Scholz, President, The Applied Voice Input Output Society (AVIOS)
"Voice Badge is among the few in that category that would act as a smartphone companion." -- Laptop Magazine
There is no doubt that we are witnessing the dawning of a new technological era: the emergence of smart objects and services, especially ones aimed for the body, the home and the car. But what is equally clear is that the way we will interact with such smart objects and services will be difficult within the current visual user interface paradigm. The visual smartphone will always play a central part in our life, but it will be far too cumbersome to help us with the many quick interactions that will populate our day.
At XOWi, we STRONGLY subscribe to the dictum that designing for universal use is the best way to design for a maximally usable product. In the case of XOWi, we want our device to be used by not only the traditional smartphone user base – those who can use both hands and eyes to interact with the device – but also people who can’t use their hands or their eyes. The effect of subscribing to the dictum of Universal Design is that not only will the user base of the product broaden, but the usability itself of the product increases in situations where an otherwise enabled person is disabled – for instance, if you are carrying a box (hands no longer free) or you are trying to control your AC in the dark (no vision). The benefits of doing the RIGHT THING are many.
Update #6: What they are Saying about XOWi Update #5: New Pledge Level.... Update #4: XOWi and Ordr.in Partner to Deliver Food by Voice Update #3 - XOWi Exhibiting at CES 2014 Update #2 - Thank you! And Details on How XOWi Can be Used.... Update #1 - XOWi Backers
Because a wearable device is by definition always on you, you can forget it even exists until you need to use it. This combination of effortless, don’t-need-to-remember-to-take-with you, don’t-need-to-look-for-it, constant availability meaningfully expands the sphere of use cases and the usability of the technology.
A whole world of situations where interactions were not possible because our hands or our eyes, or both, were busy, now open up.
At this point, we have built a handful of functional hardware prototypes and the core of the companion driver software. What's left is the work of making a good idea a great product that consistently, securely, and reliably delivers value. We want to make XOWi something that people LOVE, and people love products that reliably work as expected. So, a lot of exciting cutting edge engineering, both hardware and software, lies ahead that will enable us to robustly deliver great experiences. A lot of testing, both the hardware and the software, a lot of tweaking and fine tuning. And perhaps most importantly for our mission is to deliver XOWi at a price that will enable anyone who wants a XOWi to get one.
Here is a more detailed timeline of the main milestones between now and the time we begin delivering XOWi to our wonderful backers:
- Final Hardware Designs: The look and feel of XOWi is set, but we believe that we can further optimize the internal circuits and the placement of the microphones, speakers, and accelerometer for optimal performance.
- Final Selection of Language Technology vendors: Speech Recognition, Text To Speech, Natural Language Processing, Dictation Services
- Hardware Manufacturer Selection: We are already engaged with several manufacturing partners and are halfway through the selection of our manufacturing partner. It is crucial that we select a solid partner.
- Beta Completion of iOS and Android Software Driver Software
- Beta Completion of the XOWi Middleware Cloud
- Hardware Material Selection: XOWi needs to look good, feel good, and fit with user's clothing and environment. Selecting the right material that will enable us to deliver on all these dimensions and at the same time keep XOWi affordable is a crucial step. We will take it carefully.
- Finalized the Packaging Design: XOWi will be beautifully boxed. We want to make the unboxing experience of XOWi be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
- Beta Completion of Microsoft and Blackberry Software Drivers
- GA Certification of iOS and Android Software Drivers
- GA Certification of the XOWi Middleware Cloud
- Beta Batch production: a Beta Batch will be manufactured for extensive real-life field testing by XOWi testers as well as ordinary users.
- Quality Assurance Certification of Hardware
- GA Certification of Microsoft and Blackberry Software Driver Software
- 508 Certification of the XOWi Personal Voice Companion
- INNOVATOR and PARTNER Package Batches of XOWis shipped
- VISIONARY and EVANGELIST Package Batches of XOWis shipped
- Basic Package Batch of XOWis shipped
XOWi Inc. was founded by Ahmed Bouzid and Weiye Ma, two speech technology innovators with a life long passion for bringing voice solutions and products to the mainstream. The two became convinced in the past few months that the time for Wearable Voice had come. The XOWi Personal Voice Companion badge is their first product towards fulfilling that mission.
Ahmed Bouzid is CEO of XOWi Inc. Ahmed was previously Head of Product and VP of Strategy and Innovation at Angel (now part of Genesys Corporation). Ahmed has over 15 years of experience in the fields of Speech Automation and Natural Language Processing and has written extensively on Voice Automation and Voice User Interface design. He is co-Chair of the AVIOS DC Chapter and co-author of two books on Voice User Interface design: The Elements of VUI Style and Don't Make me Tap: A Common Sense Approach to Voice Usability. Ahmed can be followed in twiter via @didou
Dr. Weiye Ma is CTO of XOWi Inc. Dr. Ma specializes in Noise Cancellation, Signal Processing, and Speech Recognition. She has done extensive work in Multi-Microphone Array Beam Forming, Capstra Analysis, Adaptive Signal Processing, and Hidden Markov/Neural Network Modeling for Speech Recognition and Speaker Identification. Prior to joining XOWi Inc., she was a Senior Speech Scientist at Telvent Corporation, Convergys Corporation, and Unisys.
A big thank you to our family and our friends, without whose help, care, and love we would not have started this journey, let alone complete it and survive it. To everyone who has pitched in and who has encouraged us to take on this exciting project: you are a blessing. We will work hard to live up to your expectations.
The key to XOWi's high usability is its responsiveness. The interaction between the hardware and the software running on the smartphone is going to be key. A lot will be invested to ensure that such interactions are smooth on all four mobile platforms: Android, iOS, Microsoft and Blackberry.
We aim to manufacture a beautiful device that is also robust and safe. This means many testing iterations that will ensure that we are delivering a product that works and that people can be proud to wear.
Like all hardware devices, we need to pass safety certification in the markets where we wish to make XOWi available. Our initial target is the US and Canada, followed by the EU, and then the rest of the world. We don't expect any unforeseen issues, but we need to make sure that we keep such certification in mind all along the way.
We are also working to obtain 508 compliance for the Visually Impaired. Again, we don't expect any issues here as we are working with certified consultants who are guiding us through the process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Glad you asked. We get this question so often that we decided to build a whole Whiteboard video to answer it. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch…
Yes. The XOWi badge pairs with the XOWi mobile app. We have developed the app to run on all of the four main mobile platforms: Android Jelly Bean 4.1 (and up), iOS 4 (and up), Microsoft Windows 8 Phone, and Blackberry 10.
Absolutely. We live in the 21st Century! There is NO REASON why people with disabilities should not enjoy the blessings of connectivity that we, the comparatively more physically enabled, take so much for granted. Voice opens a whole world to those who are not able to enjoy the visual user interface. We designed XOWi of PURE VOICE only and in fact we engaged visually impaired users to test it for us and they loved it.
Some of the biggest fans of XOWi, we have discovered, are people beyond a certain age who find interacting with a tiny screen and a touch interface frustrating. Pure voice is the ideal UI for Seniors: no new interface to learn and no tiny screens to squint at.
You can send text and listen to incoming text without having to look at the screen. And don't worry about correcting text. XOWi lets you record your voice and will text a url to the audio of your text to the received.
So no need to correct anything.So, why one should never text with a visual smartphone? Here are some stats:
Texting While Driving Causes:
- 1,600,000 accidents per year – National Safety Council
- 330,000 injuries per year – Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study
- 11 teen deaths EVERY DAY – Ins. Institute for Hwy Safety Fatality Facts
- Nearly 25% of ALL car accidents
Texting While Driving Is:
- About 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated
- The same as driving after 4 beers – National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
- The number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers. Read more here.
We have architected XOWi in such a way that developers can easily add their own specialized modules to use privately, to share among a select group of users, or to publish to the land of XOWi users. They can offer their modules for free or for a premium, and the XOWi platform will help them monetize their offering. The interaction between any Web accessible Cloud and XOWi is accomplished easily through exchanges via simple JSON objects. If you can code PHP, (or any server side language) you can create a Voice Module.
Most of the core functionality (Speech Recognition, Speech Synthesis, Natural Language) requires special arrangements with vendors. Beyond core functionality, other cutting edge features we are working on, such as Text Summarization (taking say a CNN multi-paragraph story and boiling it down to a one sentence summary) and specialized domain interactions (say interactions that know about booking a very specific drug, its side effects, etc.) have required us to get into special arrangements and specialized vendor relationships (R&D as well as business arrangements).
Other than that, key to our value and positioning is enabling the application level layer to be easily augmentable via interaction with open APIs. The idea is that developers will not have to worry about low level core functions like managing speech recognition, text to speech, Natural Language Processing, Text Summarization, Text Curartion, etc. -- they can focus on the domain interaction and let our platform do the rest. This is in sharp contrast to Apple and Google. Apple doesn't let you build on top of Siri (at least not yet) - it doesn't even provide resources (Speech Recognition and Sythesis) that its developers can use. Google provides you with access to their Speech Recognizer and their Spech Synthesizer engines, but you really have to code the application from scratch rather than add modules to an existing ecosystem of resources.
a. The device itself imposes minimal overhead on the smart phone. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 4.0 technology. It has its own battery and tries to do as much local work as possible. For instance, stream segmentation and preparation for effective transmission, pairing and connection messages, signal strength, its own battery life, etc. Also, the speech recognition and TTS are active only during the interaction: there is no processing going on when there is no interaction -- which is often what drains the battery (for instance, listening to a wake up phrase, like the MotoX, or passing along a stream of audio for caching and potential saving, as in Kapture).
b. The device is paired and connected, and remains paired and connected until it is turned off or disconnected/unpaired.
c. The device has local messages that it issues to communicate: (a) Pairing, (b) Connecting, (c) Loss of connection or weak connection.
- (30 days)