Wearable AI Voice Recorder Is Shipping

December 20, 2019 Clive Maxfield

Wearable AI Voice Recorder Is Shipping

Use a Senstone and never miss a flash of creative genius again (Image source: Senstone.com)

Were you ever a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG)? If so, you may recall that the Starfleet officers and enlisted personnel wear small communicator badges on their left breast. These devices are presented in the shape of the Starfleet insignia and are activated with a light tap. They also incorporate a universal translator, which comes in handy on occasion.

The reason I mention this here is that I just heard from the folks at Senstone. These little rascals had a crowdsourcing campaign a couple of years ago and I'm delighted to hear that they were successful; also, that they are now in full production.

"But what is a Senstone when it's at home?" I hear you cry. Well, this little scamp is a small, stylish object that can be attached to your collar or clothing like a brooch or worn on your wrist like a watch. A light tap on the Senstone causes it to wake up and start recording whatever you say.

The Senstone isn’t intended to record long Shakespearian-type dialogs -- just short snappy thoughts up to three minutes in length. There's no practical limit to the number of recordings you can make, because the Senstone continually synchronizes with (and uploads the recordings to) an app running on your smartphone or tablet. If you happen to be out of Bluetooth range for any reason, the Senstone can hold up to two hours of recordings, and it will resynchronize with your smart device as soon as you come back in range.

Now, none of this may sound too exciting, but it's a lot cleverer and more sophisticated than it seems. As you can see in this early crowdsourcing video from 2017, the Senstone itself works to remove extraneous noise while it is recording.

The encrypted recordings are passed to the cloud where they are processed by Senstone's artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which further reduces noise and also performs a speech-to-text translation. The textual transcriptions are stored alongside the original recordings and you can access both versions on your smart device.

While you are in the process or recording, you can also say "hashtag <keyword>", where you define the keyword. This facilitates you organizing multiple recordings and grouping them by topic. 

You may be wondering if the Senstone is really useful or if it's just a gimmick. Well, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one of the early prototypes, and I'm here to affirm that the Senstone is far more efficacious than you might imagine (sad to relate, my prototype met with an unfortunate accident in the form of an inquisitive dog who was under the impression he'd found a chewable treat).

I must admit the Senstone's ease-of-use spoiled me somewhat. Of course, I have the standard Voice Memos app on my smartphone, but this isn't much use to me when I'm driving. Actually, now I come to think about it, the Voice Memos app really isn’t much use to me at all, not the least that it doesn’t provide speech to text functionality -- I have to do that myself.

I don’t know about you, but my mind is constantly buzzing along, with occasional flashes of... let's be kind and call them "creative genius." These spurious thoughts pop into my noggin and merrily bounce around at the most inconvenient moments, like while I'm in my car, meandering my way around a supermarket, or basking in the embrace of my comfy chair while watching television.

Take my car, for example. When I'm driving back and forth to work, I listen to the National Public Radio (NPR). In addition to my own thoughts, I often hear something in a news report that I wish to make note of. To facilitate this, I always have a notepad and pen sitting on the seat next to me. The only problem here is that I have to wait for a stopping point, like a traffic light turning red, before I can capture my thoughts.

In the case of a supermarket stroll, I often find myself huddles in a corner using my phone to capture text messages to myself reminding me of "this and that." The more I think about it, the more I realize that I spend an inordinate amount of time rummaging around for scraps of paper and writing implements. For example, there's a guy in the office next door. We’ll call him Bob (because that's his name). Almost invariably, when I pop into Bob's office for a chat, something will pop into my mind and I'll have to ask if I can borrow a pencil and piece of paper. It's so much easier to simply tap your collar and start talking. 

Now that I've discovered that Senstones are generally available, I'm starting to remember just how useful the little scamp was. I really need to look into getting a new one! How about you? Do you think you could be tempted by one of these little beauties?

About the Author

Clive Maxfield


Clive "Max" Maxfield received his BSc in Control Engineering in 1980 from Sheffield Hallam University, England and began his career as a designer of central processing units (CPUs) for mainframe computers. Over the years, Max has designed everything from silicon chips to circuit boards and from brainwave amplifiers to steampunk Prognostication Engines (don't ask). He has also been at the forefront of Electronic Design Automation (EDA) for more than 30 years.

Well-known throughout the embedded, electronics, semiconductor, and EDA industries, Max has presented papers at numerous technical conferences around the world, including North and South America, Europe, India, China, Korea, and Taiwan. He has given keynote presentations at the PCB West conference in the USA and the FPGA Forum in Norway. He's also been invited to give guest lectures at several universities in the US and at Oslo University in Norway. In 2001, Max "shared the stage" at a conference in Hawaii with former Speaker of the House, "Newt" Gingrich.

Max is the author of a number of books, including Designus Maximus Unleashed (banned in Alabama), Bebop to the Boolean Boogie (An Unconventional Guide to Electronics), EDA: Where Electronics Begins, FPGAs: Instant Access, and How Computers Do Math.

Follow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin Visit Website More Content by Clive Maxfield
Previous Article
Open Source Software - A Moving Target
Open Source Software - A Moving Target

Open source can significantly hasten your design, if implemented correctly.

Next Article
OnTrack Newsletter: Cloud-based Design, RF and Design Tips
OnTrack Newsletter: Cloud-based Design, RF and Design Tips

OnTrack Newsletter: Cloud-based Design, RF and Design Tips