Project OrbMi And How To Increase Voice Sharing
As we have talked with more and more people about the concept of voice messaging, we recognize that everyone seems to have a strong option about how they relate to voice. It is a simple love or hate relationship. Also, for many of us, the idea of non-urgent, location specific voice shares represents a fundamental shift in how we look at our communication options. It’s a bit “weird” and we get that.
When you first hear about the OrbMi project many people point out the various messaging options or ways they can send voice. We are aware there are ways to send voice messages, but the issue is even with new voice app options, for many of us we still do not send or share voice with our phones. This is the issue we wanted to solve when communicating with your closest contacts.
When some people hear about the OrbMi project, they think it’s about providing a hardware device to avoid interruptions and notifications. The response to disruption overload is a small part of the story….but not the core purpose. It’s actually interesting that when reviewing OrbMi some people more directly recognize and relate to the concept of avoiding message overload more than the concept of communicating better through voice with our closest friends and family.
We feel that we present these two concepts somewhat equally, or in fact, we try to bring more attention to the value of voice shares with loved ones. However, the fact that many people still more directly recognize the issue of notification avoidance when hearing about the project just goes to show how much we all need to change our mindset when it comes to communicating with voice.
Our Troubled Relationship With Voice On Our Phone
OrbMi’s primary premise is we already have an odd relationship with voice on our phones. 40-70% (depending on demographic) have no land line, so the only way to reach us is on the mobile device. Many of us find voice so inconvenient on our smartphones, we have even deactivated VM or just never check them. If we do have a voice app installed, it’s more for “voice texts”…short voice memos of 4-6 seconds, like “I’m on my way will see you there at 7”, but not really longer richer “voice shares”.
When we know our contact is likely busy (different time zone, work, school, asleep, etc), and our only option is to reach them on the mobile device, our finding is we do one of two things:
1- We avoid communicating…and decide we will reach out at another time.
2- We send a “downgraded” message like a text.
This might be fine for many of our contacts or messaging needs…if these make you connect with some contacts, they should continue to be used…but what about your closest 2 or 10 contacts…the people you should be communicating with better? How often or how well are you communicating with these people?
There Is No One App For All Communications
We already split our channels for communication. OrbMi is not trying to replace any of our methods we use now…it’s meant to add to our messaging options, especially for a format that is currently missing…aka longer voice shares with loved ones when you can’t time a call.
If it’s urgent we call or miss call or text “call me”. If its not urgent…we SMS or use a messaging app. But what we have lost with our current app options is a more meaningful way to share voice. Because of the reasons why we avoid sending or getting voice on our phones now, we wanted to see if removing voice from the phone could improve freer and more meaningful voice shares when it’s the best way to express a specific thought.
A mother could Orb her daughters dorm-room at any time with a two minute share instead of opting for a two line text or short email. You could be across the country on business and share an update with each kid in their own room when you might not easily be able to schedule a call with the whole family and get everyone to pass the phone around making it more special. You could send an Orb to your grandparents without worry if they are resting. Ask yourself if there is someone in your life that you that you might more freely reach with your voice if they had an Orb or who might be more willing to reach out to you. Your communication channel needs might already be optimized, but our view is you can likely think of that one person who you could reach in a better way when you can’t always time a call.
So, OrbMi is not specifically about avoiding interruptions….it’s more about giving your closest contacts a way to say they can reach you with voice at ANY time. A call is best, but when you can’t have a call, an Orb message encourages a longer voice share, instead of sending a text or email or nothing at all.
How OrbMi Adds Value – “Voice Shares” The Missing Medium
The core premise is despite there being apps for messaging or sending voice and the various notification settings we have to reduce disruptions…we have already changed how we communicate when we want to reach someone without urgency. We have already reduced the amount we talk. Even when we do call someone and get their voicemail (for those who still have this active) we tend to not leave voice, but again change our message to text.
While it’s fine for the majority of our communication….we felt there are richer voice shares which are NOT taking place right now, because we know it goes to the phone, a place where voice is increasingly less than welcome.
When it comes to our closest contacts at least….we don’t dislike voice shares…we just don’t have a medium which encourages us to share voice more freely. If we could provide a way which is convenient to send and convenient to receive without any expectation of immediate delivery or response needs, we might help open ourselves back up to the idea of voice…the way we use to communicate….that is our hope anyway.
OrbMi and The Orb Hardware Solution
OrbMi does have a hardware component, but the idea is our smartphone is being seen as a great way to send voice, but less for receiving voice. The same is true for the wearables, like the smartwatch. So, instead of loosing the communication option of voice shares with close friends and family, we wanted to take the concept of longer voice messaging off the hardware device where it is currently ignored and introduce a device specific to that purpose.
The Orb is a location specific dual USB charging hub with dedicated voice playback. We didn’t want people to feel like they had one more app to check or power while out and mobile during the day. We want everyone to just relax, and share voice with their closest friends and family when they can’t time a call, and let people enjoy those messages whenever they are done with their day and back at their Orb.Tweet