It’s such a pleasure to watch Basanti, my 45 year old house help, who hasn’t had a single day of schooling, use her smartphone like an absolute pro. Her usage is standard – music, videos, chatting, calls – but it’s just amazing how she breezes through it all.
I remember it was not too long ago when Basanti would be overcome with fear and inhibitions while dealing with anything remotely related to technology. And I’m sure that would be the case with so many like her, who represent the next gen of internet users (thanks to affordable smartphones and inexpensive internet) across cities, towns and villages.
So, what is it that has allayed her fear of technology and made her so comfortable with her smartphone and her favorite apps? I would say it’s the evolution of ‘Voice’.
The all so powerful tiny MIC has transformed users like Basanti from being mere passive consumers of whatever would appear on their screens to someone making a conscious choice of the content they would like to consume. This tiny tool has been a game changer of sorts, giving them the much needed reins over their phones, apps and preferred content.
While ‘Voice’ is all about convenience for someone like myself, for Basanti it's nothing short of empowerment and liberation. She is now the true master of her phone and can search and watch exactly what she wants, when she wants, without having to wait for others or feel embarrassed asking for help… and she’s loving it :)
Whether it is informing me about her leave through Voice Notes on WhatsApp, showing me the recipe of a traditional sweet of her village on YouTube, or listening to her favorite song, Voice has made it all so seamless. The interactive experience of having a human voice reply to a query creates an instant connect and a personalised effect that over time grows into a sense of loyalty towards these apps. Voice has humanized these apps, helping to transcend barriers that have long existed across various demographics, geographies and languages.
While ‘Voice’ has beautifully bridged the gap between users like Basanti and technology, it would be interesting to see how it’s integration with various aspects and features of apps and technology stretch the boundaries, taking them on this new-found journey, that was until recently, a distant dream.
Photo credit: Hindustan Times