Controlling your phone by voice is great, but it’d be even better if you could do it without ever laying hands on the device.

Nuance Communications, the maker of Dragon dictation software, is working on it, according to a story in MIT’s Technology Review. (Nuance is also believed to be the speech recognition backbone for Apple’s Siri, though it’s never been confirmed.)

The company is working with several chip makers on a persistent, low-power way to always listen for voice commands from the user. Vlad Sejnoha, Nuance’s chief technology officer, expects this capability to be ready within a year or two.

The ability to talk to your phone without touching it has huge potential. On the most basic level, it’d be useful for performing basic tasks when your phone is out of reach, such as getting directions while driving. But as more of our phone’s functions–and the world’s knowledge–become tied into voice commands, we could get ever-closer to the Star Trek Computer concept that techies have dreamed of for years. Our phones won’t be phones anymore, but always-aware devices that do whatever we tell them to do.

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