I personally find voice controlled systems to be extremely frustrating, but for some it can mean freedom. Ok, maybe not freedom, but at least the ability to participate. The last article I wrote was about how assistive technology can enhance the lives of people with disabilities, and this one will be similar. I geek out over the fact that technology can have such an impact on someone’s life. Technology enhances all of our lives. I am swimming in it right now. I’m typing this on a laptop as I lay in my bed and stream a television show. I’m also iMessaging friends and tracking my calories and activity through my Apple watch. I don’t know where I would be without technology, but for some its more important.
Adobe is in the process of demonstrating a voice-controlled option for photo editing. So I mentioned earlier that I find voice controlled systems to be frustrating, but did I mention my struggle with Photoshop? Let me preface this with, I love Photoshop, but I find it to be very cumbersome and time consuming. I’m not what you would call a “creative”, in my opinion, so that might be where my frustrations come into it. I love being able to take a photo and enhance it. I’ve done this with some extremely old family photos. You know the kind – the black and white pictures where everyone has a scowl on their face. Cleaning them up to make them look “new” is a passion project of mine. But who has time for it? I digress. The purpose of this demo is to help people with disabilities be able to use the product.
I wonder, though, if it will have the same capabilities as Photoshop. My guess is not. It can be difficult enough to select an area of an image that you want to alter when you’re using a mouse, let alone trying to do the same commands with your voice. My biggest concern with the demo is that the software still requires you to be able to touch the screen. Which can be difficult if you don’t have any hands. I’m not being flippant. I see this as a way to give people with disabilities access to an amazing program that they might not otherwise be able to use. But, if you still have to use your hands to touch the screen in order to activate the program, how is this helping?
Voice recognition software can be difficult for some people to use and it also doesn’t always play nice with other software. Not to mention, its accuracy. This leads me to wonder whether more programs themselves need to have this type of capability built into them? Or is this just a fancy addition to the mobile version? Both iOS and Windows have voice recognition options built into them, and both work just as well as purchasing software off the shelf. Adobe’s addition of this feature makes me skeptical of the built-in versions ability to work well with Adobe.
Voice controlled devices are the way of the future. Just ask Siri or Alexa. Both make our lives a little bit easier, and hopefully they also provide some type of assistance to people with disabilities. I have no excuses, other than there must be something wrong with my voice? Hopefully Adobe will stick with this way of thinking and provide further enhancements to their other programs. Leveling the playing field for people with disabilities.