Just picked up my new HTC Hero phone from Sprint yesterday and it's pretty damn cool all on it's own but after installing a few super cool apps, it's damn near a Star Trek Tricorder!
Why do I equate the HTC Hero to a Tricorder?
Because it interacts with the real world in some amazing ways that are just the beginning of what's to come.
- It can hear and analyze voice and music
- It can see barcodes, do rudimentary iris scans, handwriting IDs and more
- Locates "life signs" with face detection
- Uses GPS to match real time images with maps
I would suspect in a couple of years or sooner you'll be able to point your Android phone at someone's face and it'll locate them on Facebook, show you their twitter stream and myspace page within seconds and avoid those awkward situations where you can't remember the name of someone you know.
Better yet, for the safety of everyone, especially the children and ladies out on the town alone, it could easily tell you everyone walking nearby that is a sex offender or has a violent criminal record so you can easily avoid these people, tag their GPS location when spotted and alert everyone to be alert.
However, that's not here yet, but it's so close you can almost taste it.
What's here now:
Google Voice Search
The Google Voice Search hears about as well as I do so it gets about 90% of what I say correct but it's amazing, you barely ever need the keyboard.
Got a leak in the kitchen faucet?
Click the little search icon button on the front of Hero, touch the microphone and merely say "plumber" and Google gave me a list of plumbers within miles of my house.
Looking for Pizza? Burgers? anything at all?
Don't type it, just say it.
It's not limited to simple words either, it'll accurately type in a whole sentence but sometimes makes little mistakes like "Deck the halls with bowels of holly".
Voice GPS Navigation
You tell the navigation system where you want to go, it quickly plots a course, and starts audibly and visually telling you how to get to the next leg of your journey.
High traffic volumes and alternate routes are also taken into consideration but I haven't had a chance to use it for more than a couple of rudimentary tests but it was very accurate so far.
Google Mapping and Sprint Navigation Integration Failure
The only thing I'll ding the HTC Hero with, and maybe I just couldn't figure it out yet or maybe there's an app out there that will do this, but Google Maps doesn't appear to pass it's information into Sprint Navigator which is damned annoying and easily fixable.
It just makes sense that when I've already located where I want to go in Google that there would be a smoothly integrated link to Sprint's GPS Navigation system but I sure didn't see it.
Barcode Scanners linked to Product Databases
Possibly the coolest damn thing ever because when we're shopping from home at the computer we can compare prices, read reviews, and basically see if we're getting the best product available with the best price, or not.
When we're shopping in the real world these days it feels like you're naked, you can't look at the reviews, you can't comparison shop, so often we go home and end up getting something drop shipped from Amazon.
Now that's all changed with tools like ShopSavvy that combine bar code readers with online databases where you can compare prices, bundled options, reviews and everything you need to know to make a well informed purchase.
Music Recognition Software
Download the music recognition app Shazam and it can identify the song playing in the background at the local bar or restaurant, assuming it's not too noisy, or the background music on the TV show or movie you're watching or the all too obvious song on the radio.
It has accurately identified almost everything I've thrown at it except some music on the wife's soap opera.
Amazing piece of software, a must have.
I could go on and on about other apps that also do amazing things but you kind of get the idea.
The HTC Android phone has already transcended just being a device to chat on voice or text into the beginning of a very exciting combination of technologies that allow us to bridge the real world with the wealth of information on the internet.
What we're seeing now is just the beginning, my mind reels with the possibilities, which are virtually unlimited.
We're quickly converging on a single hand held device that is a truly personal digital assistant that can recognize objects, people, places, voices and even function as a universal translator some day real soon.
The next step will be artificial intelligence that filters and prioritizes all this data based on your own personal preferences and then the PDA will reach it's true potential and become invaluable, a device that could initially reshape the retail landscape because price gouging will quickly become a thing of the past.
I'm waiting for the next killer Android mashup app, what will it be?