Still waiting for the point-n-call and point-n-text features on my smartphone
Many times I’ve driven past a store wondering if they have a certain item or what their store hours are. While I understand that it’s relatively easy to “Ask Siri” or “Hey Google,” I would much rather have the ability to just aim my phone at the store, hit a button, and automatically call them.
Or how about this? How often have you wished you could text a message to the people in the car next to you on the freeway (point-n-warn)? Or at some person across the room from you at a party (point-n-flirt)?
Not to be confused with “point-n-click,” which is designed for computer mouse engagement for people with disabilities, this point-n-call/text function would be built into a phone, like a camera function. In fact, in some of the ways we’d use it, it may need to activate the camera function.
Point-n-call/text would enable you to engage, through your smartphone or other device, with the technology of other devices that you are not otherwise connected to.
When you’re pointing at a building, there would need to be a “receptor” capability in or around that building to allow or engage in the interaction. The way I see it, point-n-call/text could be triggered by image recognition and/or Internet-based connectivity. In fact, it would be another iteration of the Internet of Things (IoT), with more devices talking to more things.
Naturally you’d need some system of checks and balances because, for example, you wouldn’t want someone to point-n-disengage your security system or turn the receptor mechanism on and off. Many of these capabilities will have to be decided on by the product designers, lawyers, and ethicists as they explore the feasibility and advisability of these and thousands of other use cases waiting to see the light of day.
But rather than getting buried in the hypothetical weeds of functionality, I’d rather spend time thinking through the “what if” side of the equation and the new world of interactivity it would open up.
That said, I do need to address the elephant in the room: the obvious potential for abuse, harassment, and privacy intrusions stemming from point-n-call/text. I would just say, though, that nearly every communication technology opens those doors. Spam calls interrupt my day constantly. Texts with malicious links hit my smartphone 24/7. Social media sites are breeding grounds for slander and the spread of misinformation. But in these and other cases, including, I would argue, a point-n-call/text function, the bad must be weighed against the good … and I see far more positive aspects to this presumptive technology.
An interactive point-n-call/text function will add additional lines of communication and save time. It will help us make better-informed decisions and stimulate interpersonal conversations and relationships.
Going through a museum, wouldn’t it be great to point-n-text at a piece of artwork to find out about the artist or the artwork itself?
Driving past a city, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to point-n-call a highway sign and find out what businesses are located there, the history of the area, and if there are any hotel rooms available?
At a cocktail party, wouldn’t you want someone to surreptitiously point-n-warn you that you have chip dip on your chin? Yes, we need an app for that!
What if you could point at a billboard, sign on a bus, or ad on the back of a pedicab and get more detail, find pricing, or ask questions?
Here are a few more intriguing use cases for point-n-call/text technology:
- Point at an actor on stage or screen and find out what other shows they’ve been in.
- Point at a house and get a satellite image of it.
- Point at a sporting venue and find out the cost of admission for today’s event.
- Point at a landmark and begin an AI conversation about its significance.
- Point at a dental office to find the price of an implant or a root canal.
- Point at a business and see their reputation score.
Admittedly, my description is simplistic, and I’m only scratching the surface with these possible use cases. But in the interest of advancing humanity’s ability to productively communicate, I’m hoping to stimulate the thinking of the right person. If I’m successful, I’ll have a private moment of pride and satisfaction when I see this feature on my iPhone 15!