Voicing Options for Application Access
Peter Coffee: Speech input/output extends applications to new users and new environments.Last week, I mentioned the Section 508 mandates for information accessibility in federal IT and noted the growing influence of these rules on software design. Coincidentally, I find these requirements being cited on the hardware side as well, in a technical paper that I saw this past week from Adomo Inc.--whose AdomoMCS appliance adds voice navigation and speech input/output to Microsoft Exchange. Speech recognition is pigeonholed in many peoples minds as a stupid IT trick, something that works well enough to be interesting in a demonstration but badly enough to be a nuisance in real life. The problem, according to innovation theorist Clayton Christensen at the Harvard Business School, is that speech recognition has been mis-marketed toward the people who type the most, rather than being offered to the people who type the worst.
As anyone knows whos used the handwriting recognition on a late-model Pocket PC, current algorithms are surprisingly good at figuring out what word is coming next: Routine e-mail is sufficiently predictable that speech-to-text translation can be much more productive than thumb exercises on diminutive keyboards.
If I may indulge myself with a brief P.S.: A surprising number of readers criticized last weeks letter for saying that companies should be legally required to make their Web sites accessible to the blind. I say, "surprising," because the letter said nothing of the kind. On the contrary, I narrated the courts reasoning in determining that existing law requires no such thing--although I did also argue that rational commercial self-interest should accomplish what the law, as yet, does not. Thanks for your many letters.
Tell me if youre ready to give voice to your applications--or give voice to your frustrations