I attended a fascinating event where industry leaders discussed the direction in which communicating with technology is headed. They talked about how your mobile device is rapidly becoming your new best friend, and as such, will begin to know more about you than you ever imagined. As voice recognition technology continues to improve, that device, which we’ll call “Sam” (after all — it’s like a person) may even begin to understand what’s deep inside your soul and respond accordingly to your questions.


Sam will always be there for you when you walk into a room full of strangers. If you aren’t feeling social, you can just pick him up and start to interact instead of conversing with others. That means there’s no more awkwardness of introducing yourself to people at a conference who might ask you a question about your company that you just don’t know how to answer. You ask Sam a question, and if all of the technology and data are aligned, Sam will be able to discern the difference between speech and intent and understand you. Sam will act more like you and, as a result, your relationship and dependence on him will grow.


We’ve seen the power of voice recognition — and some of us may even talk back to those devices in frustration when the GPS says to make a turn on the wrong street or slows down and says repeatedly, “I’m recalibrating.” We talk to Siri, we talk to our cars, and we may even argue with the robotic voices that help diagnose our problems over the phone. Yet with all of these advances, we’re still at the early stages of what voice recognition and behavior learning applications can achieve.


That brings me to the dog referenced in the title of the article. One speaker at the event brought something to my attention that went beyond voice recognition in terms of how mobile devices can become more in tune with you — eventually. What do you think that was? You guessed it: Smell. Just like a dog can recognize the scent of its owner, your mobile device may someday be able to recognize or understand you better based on how you smell.


Think about the ramifications of this special way to communicate with your smartphone. When do you synch up the application that recognizes your scent? After you run four miles on a hot day? Or after you take a shower? Instead of touching your finger to the keyboard, do you point the device under your arm? Yuck. What happens if you use the same cologne as someone who tries to log on as you? Or if you have way too much garlic before you try to access or interact with your device? These are some of the “deep” questions that would have to be explored if smell were to someday become a new way to interact with technology or access services online.


Seriously, though, if you can move beyond the idea of having your cell phone know you better than your spouse — and if you can get past the ick factor of smell-based contextual recognition — then you can focus on the impact that the proliferation of mobile devices already has on your company. Employees want to BYOD (bring your own device), and IT has to figure out how to support all those devices.


Some voice recognition technologies have already presented challenges to corporate IT. Organizations may require their users to deactivate them if the users want to leverage their device for work. That’s because of some of the devices can allow for access via voice commands and bypass the need to enter a passcode using the device’s keyboard.  Many IT organizations have a long way to go when it comes to executing a complete and comprehensive mobile device management policy that takes into account the BYOD approach. The issues to tackle include identifying devices on the network and accessing email servers. They also include blocking unauthorized devices, setting up and managing enterprise app stores, and dealing with sensitive corporate data that’s mobile. If you’d like to learn more about mobile device management, visit


Maybe understanding individual scent has a way to go, but then again, are you ready to be the IT person in charge of ensuring that the “scent detector” is properly working on employees’ mobile devices? Now that might actually be a great job for a dog.