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Who Needs Siri When I Have Moshi

When Apple introduced the iPhone 4S in October the most talked about new feature was Siri, the personal assistant software that works with voice controls. I’m not an iPhone guy so I haven’t had any 1-1 conversations with Siri, but I’ve read many transcriptions of conversations people have had with Siri and for the most part people love her/him/it. Of course, like any technology there are glitches. A week ago Siri was not able to access the network and essentially stopped working. How quickly people had become dependent on Siri to manage their day-day activities.

This little glitch with Siri reminded me about my relationship with Moshi, (aka BK622373 voice Activated Alarm Clock). A couple of years ago as I was getting ready for bed, my dear wife asked me if I had looked at my alarm clock. I turned my head to see a new clock with large digital numbers in clear plastic rising from a sleek white base. My first reaction was, oh that’s nice the numbers are large and easy to read. But then my wife said, “touch it”. So I did. “Command please” the clock responded. What in Sam Hell is that and what am I supposed to command it to do?

What I then learned was that Moshi was a voice controlled alarm clock. Using voice commands you could program the time, the alarm, change lighting schemes and have it make you an egg salad sandwich. In response to your commands, Moshi would tell you the time, what time your alarm was set for, what temperature the room was at, but mostly it said, “I’m sorry, I couldn't’t understand your command, please say it again.” 

Here is an actual “conversation” I had with Moshi one evening:

Moshi: Command please
Me: Set alarm
Moshi: What time would you like the alarm set to?
Me: 5:45am
Moshi: I’m sorry I didn’t understand your command, please say it again.
Me: 5:45am
Moshi: I’m sorry please say a valid command like set time.
Me: Set alarm
Moshi: What time would you like the alarm set to?
Me: 5:45am
Moshi: The alarm is now set to 7:05pm
Me: What a piece of sh..
Moshi: silence
Moshi: Command please
Me: Set alarm
Moshi: What time would you like the alarm set to?
Me: 5:45am
Moshi: The alarm is now set to 5:45am
Me: Thank you Moshi
Moshi: silence

Over time my relationship with Moshi has worked itself out. I don’t expect too much of Moshi and Moshi doesn’t think harshly of me if I don’t talk to her/him/it every day. We still have conversations that make me feel like a character in a David Mamet play but we can usually get the task done without too many repeat efforts. Now if I could get our 4 year old Doberman, Odin, to listen to me as well as Moshi, that would be an accomplishment.

Chris Hanson
The Fortunate Technologist and CEO of thedatabank, inc.

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