Google's Star Trek wearable did not live long, nor prosper

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/Philartphace)

In an interview with TIME magazine, Google's chief software engineer Amit Singhal revealed the company once built a prototype wearable similar to the Communicator pin worn by the Enterprise's crew in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although the project did not live long, nor did it prosper. 

The pin, which could be attached to a user's clothing, was activated with a single tap and featured a microphone to receive voice commands. “I always wanted that pin,” says Singhal. “You just ask it anything and it works. That’s why we were like, ‘Let’s go prototype that and see how it feels.’” 

Anyone who has used Google's fantastic AI-based voice search on Android Wear would know how well this could work. With smartwatches often suffering from poor battery life, there is sure to be a market for consumers wanting a device which could be worn and relied-upon to offer answers whenever it's needed (even if just the huge amount of Star Trek fans.)

Singhal himself is a self-admitted Star Trek fan and can recite some episodes line-by-line. Star Trek inspired a lot of what Google's voice search can achieve today, and was even codenamed 'Project Majel' before settling on 'Google Now' in reference to the actress who voiced the computer AI system on the Enterprise. Microsoft used a similar approach with their own voice technology, although took it to market as 'Cortana' - a reference to the AI found in video game series Halo. 

As the world's biggest search engine, Google has a significant advantage when it comes to artificial intelligence thanks to its robust neural networks. Although still a challenge, this is helping Google to overcome current AI implementations' difficulties in understanding human meaning. 

Just last week Google pushed an update for its voice search which improves context so you can ask it things like "What ingredients are in a screwdriver" and it would understand you mean the drink, not the tool. You can now also request answers based on multiple, complex queries such as "Who was the U.S. President when the Angels won the World Series?” and it would respond, “George Bush.” 

The web giant also open-sourced its machine learning system 'TensorFlow' which should help Google to improve it thanks to wider-testing, as reported by our sister publication DeveloperTech. 

Would you like to see a Communicator-style wearable from Google? Let us know in the comments. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

The show is co-located with the AI & Big Data Expo, Cyber Security & Cloud Expo and Blockchain Expo so you can explore the entire ecosystem in one place.

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