Motorola

Motorola has finally revealed the date for its next big press event, and on September 4 we're likely to meet at least four new devices. The invite sent out today hints at the Moto X's successor, the Moto G2, the Moto 360 and something you'll wear in your ear. So far Motorola's efforts in the wearable space have been focused on the Moto 360, the lustworthy Android Wear smartwatch that's been turning heads (and making nerds impatient) since its April announcement. But what if Motorola's smart earpiece isn't just another Bluetooth headset — what if it's the company's first phone-connected smart earpiece?

At launch, the Moto X was a phone with unparalleled voice control capabilities — the ability to say "OK Google Now," followed by a whole host of spoken commands, was one of the device's killer features. Similar functionality later came to other Qualcomm-powered phones thanks to built-in, low-power speech recognition sensors, but Moto has been shipping this technology for the past year. Android Wear is already a voice-centric experience, in which it's much easier to launch apps and give your watch commands using your voice. The potential is clear, even if the execution isn't perfect yet.

Motorola paper fortune teller

imagine being able to give your Moto X voice commands without even taking it out of your pocket.

So how might Motorola envision a smart ear-based wearable like the one in today's invite? Well, for starters, imagine being able to give your Moto X (or Moto X+1) voice commands without even taking it out of your pocket, or holding your watch up to your face like Dick Tracy. Sure, there is something of a stigma attached to Bluetooth headset use, but it's no less socially acceptable than talking into your wrist. In addition to obvious stuff like calls and texts, there's no reason why the majority of Motorola's Touchless Control commands couldn't be handled through a "smart" Bluetooth headset, with voice feedback directed straight into your ear. Checking your schedule, controlling music or asking Google Now questions would all be relatively easy for Moto to achieve, complete with direct spoken responses.

But notification reading is where things could really get interesting. Pulling out a smartphone, or looking down and fiddling around with a smartwatch isn't always convenient. In some situations, for example when you're driving, running or walking through a busy city, you might want your notifications piped into your ear too. Moto already does this with text messages through the Moto X's driving mode. Doing so with all notifications — or at least a chosen subset of them — is a logical next step for a Motorola smart earpiece.

We're only speculating at this point, but this kind of wearable device could be an interesting development for Motorola, leveraging its strength in voice controls and the power of Google Now. We'll be watching with interest come Sept. 4. In the meantime, share your thoughts, and any theories of your own, down in the comments.

 

Reader comments

'OK Google headset:' Imagining a different kind of Motorola wearable

52 Comments

Could be part of Android wear 2.0 and preempt the iWatch with a wearable that actually makes a whole lot of sense.

Posted via Android Central App

I definitely love the idea, but price will be key if they want a large adoption rate. It cannot be much more than a premium BT headset or only a vast minority will buy it.

They also need to keep it simple and functional at first, then slowly add features as the public gets used to the idea.

Agreed. BT earpieces are just not that popular anymore. I used to use one every time I was in the car, but now that BT is a standard feature even in most inexpensive cars, I haven't had a need to use one in years. I think a lot of people fall into that same category.

Also, I hate to nit pick (ahahaha no I don't), but isn't "vast minority" an oxymoron?

or it could be just a bluetooth headset.. Although I wish they build a headset with ok googlenow enabled

True. Maybe it's not a new device at all but they're hinting at this new added function that will work with existing headsets smoothly.

Posted via the Android Central App

I would love for better Bluetooth headset wearables rather than just a focus on wrist wearables.

I have been trying to find the best way to do complete phone control over a BT headset for when I'm riding on my motorcycle. In that scenario, a headset is the best option.

But the main thing is Google Now needs improvements to work better when the phone's screen is off.

agreed. I so would like to see some TLC and R&D on the ear piece. I just can't believe that its the same rectangle sticking out your ear. Beyond design, which I know they can do better, improving the experience itself. Better binary decision trees alone would make it so much more useful. Simple things can go a long way. Motion sensors could detect a nod or shake of the head. Adding in some bone conducting could improve accuracy.

Beyond that, some basic AI into our behavior (doing same things at certain times of day or location, imperceptible motions of the head when saying yes or no to a question, detecting heart rate for additional security, ect)

There is so much that could be done with a BT ear bud/stereo headset then just mic/speaker.

If you have a Moto X and you have a Bluetooth paired, it should actively listen for commands if you have it enabled in settings. I've used it in the car and while running. Or are you talking about Moto headset and other OEM phone?

He speaks the truth. My Moto X randomly activates when my podcasts barely mentions Google when I play my Bluetooth car speaker on the radio.

Posted via Android Central App

Images from the movie "Her" are starting to creep into my mind....not sure I like it or not. If it is similar to the ear piece they use in that movie, it will be creepy.

Having Scarlett Johansson whispering in my ear would be pretty awesome.

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+1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 x 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000 to the 1000000000000000000000000000000000000th power then plus infinity squared.

I'd rather have a pair of smart bluetooth earbuds w/ a microphone built in rather than a single bluetooth headset. I'd love to use those for voice commands, phone calls, and music playback. The ability to charge wireless would be excellent also.

I want the same thing. Closest thing I've seen so far is some stuff on KickStarter like The Dash and Earin. But if Moto can add voice commands and pull it off for a reasonable price, then I'm in.

Not have this come off like it is going to, but this needs to be compatible with all phones or it is going great to bomb a bit. Only because moto has such a small market share that as a whole it wouldn't pay for itself.

I guess I am going to have to watch her tonight to see what you guys are talking about

Posted via Android Central App

I think I need to see a doctor... I actually agree with you.

Posted from the Avengers: Age of Droid Ultra

I was thinking of the movie "Her" as well, I actually don't find it creepy at all. That would be an awesome earpiece. It would make sense for noisy cities like New York, while running etc. I'm actually excited to see what Motorola has in store for us! The future is now!! Lol

Sounds great to me. The wearables connect to the phone (hub) and augment each other. Hoping this is what happens. And if the watch is bundled with the earpiece for $400 I am in.

I think we have a pretty good idea of what the capabilities of the headset will be. Although if it reads your pulse that would be amazing. But I am more excited about the hardware. Can they make it as sexy as the 360? And although i like the headset idea, its not an all the time experience. Can you imagine having an X+1, a 360, and earpiece at the same time working together. What would that be like? I am sure that moto wants you to use them all..

I think it would be pretty great. Especially for in city navigation. Sports scores. Basically any notification that could be done by a whisper in your ear instead of a distracting glance at your watch or smartphone. Responding to a text would be pretty sweet too. It has to glow blue though, so people know of when you are recording a conversation. Lol

Posted via Android Central App

Imagine being at a bar. Meet a girl. She says her name....the headset whispers in all her details from google searches.

Dang, September is gonna be busy for mobile lovers
Note 4, iPhone 6, and new moto devices. I can't wait.

Posted via the Android Central App

I guess it's an interesting idea but I believe today (as in mid-2014) you guys are dreaming too high. High quality headset being launched with the phones n wear because it's not such a big product to be launched on it's own. Something big n important as this would have leaked.

Posted via Android Central App

From the article re OK Google Now: " Similar functionality later came to other Qualcomm-powered phones thanks to built-in, low-power speech recognition sensors,"

What other phones have this feature built in? I know any phone on KitKat can do it with Google Now app when the phone is charging with the screen off, or any time the screen is on, but as far as I knew the Moto X and Droids are the only ones which can do it with the screen off and not being on the charger. That's a huge advantage over any other phone in my book.

Posted via the Android Central App

I believe it's a feature on the Oneplus One, although I'm not sure if it's fully implemented and flawless yet

Just bought a new Bluetooth too!!! As long as everything is priced accordingly, I could be in for the 360 and the earpiece. I love my X and I really don't feel the need for an upgrade at this point but we'll see. I do have an upgrade available from Big Red.

Moto, please make a G2/X+1, 360, smart headset package deal. If not a pricing bundle, maybe include a Qi charging pad to those purchasing all 3 that can simultaneously charge the new devices.

If nothing else, just make sure they're available to purchase within a day of the announcement or forever be swallowed up by Apple's event.

I hope Motorola succeeds, had terrible customer service with htc over my One m8's camera. Well I guess once I get it back unrepaired I will sell it. Have a oneplus one and love it!

Posted via Android Central App

I already give my Moto X commands without taking it out of my pocket. What's the point of their enhanced voice control if not to do just that?

Posted via Android Central App

Guess I'll be upgrading the 24th so I can exchange for the next moto. I hope within the 2 week period we see the new Droid! Would be awesome!

I'm already planning on blowing most of my money on the X2 and the 360 what's an awesome Bluetooth headset gonna hurt?

Posted via Android Central App

"IMAGINE BEING ABLE TO GIVE YOUR MOTO X VOICE COMMANDS WITHOUT EVEN TAKING IT OUT OF YOUR POCKET." I've been doing this with my Moto X for a year. What do I need a headset for?

True. On the other hand mic and speaker are so good that many times I listened to and responded to text while the phone was in the pocket. My co-driver was totally amazed :)
Motorola Whisper is a big fail, BTW - speaker too weak and voice commands are hit or miss. I already got the replacement and it's equally bad. Not to mention that it started acting out (unstable connectivity) only after 5 months. I hope that the new ear piece will be worth the money.

Posted via the Android Central App on VZW Moto X

I can't help but think of something like the Motorola Mini H9 that came out a few years back, but with added functionality. As has been mentioned here, bluetooth headsets have a bit of a stigma but if Moto could build such a crazy small device almost five years ago then imagine what they can do now!

This company is one of the few truly serious innovators left in big business and I'm still saddened by the sale to Lenovo. But what's done is done and hopefully the'll get the funding and freedom to keep pushing tech boundaries .

I can already activate Google Now when I press the button on my Motorola HX550 BT headset. The main limitation is that Google Now is a bit less "audio friendly" than Siri, and doesn't seem to have as elegant of an spoken response to questions. That'll only get better.

I'd much rather use a headset than a watch (Tried Gear Live and sold it... not because it was bad, but because my 50 year old eyes had a hard time with the screen, and taking out my cheaters was no easier than taking out my phone)

I have a been a bluetooth ear jockie for years. I own 3 Jabra clips. (one is always charged). I use mono-ear buds nearly 100% of the time. I am glad that someone is taking this aspect seriously and dumping some r&d and tlc into the experience.

Having an intelligent and customizable speak then respond experience with your phone will be huge. I prefer hearing my driving directions in my ear while driving, walking, or biking. Add onto that notifications from sms (which i had to kinda hack on before), emails from select contacts. Why stop there, how about reading tweets from a white list (with smarts to exclude links).

I could go on and on. Basically what I've been waiting for is creating an experience with your ears and voice so superb that the blind could use this and be opened to a whole new world.

super excited and can't wait.

I like the term "ear jockey." And yeah, it would be nice to see a BT earpiece with some actual new features. All of the higher-end ones have been pretty much the same for the last three or four years now. The new iterations all just boast better noise canceling, more attractive design, etc, but they're just (arguably) improving on features that've been standard for years. Good to see Moto dumping some R&D time into something they've historically done really well.

I for one can't wait for a Bluetooth headset that actually WORKS with android phones. It's the one thing that all android OS can't get right