Microsoft wants consumers to control the camera by voice, according to filed patent

It has been revealed that Microsoft has delved into voice-controlled camera technology. The US Patent & Trademark Office has published a patent application filed by the company, which would introduce speech commands for camera operation on a smartphone. Just when you thought the handsfree approach couldn't go any more... well... handsfree.

Microsoft has been attempting to head down multiple routes to make its mobile platform that more unique in the competitive market. From utilising its other established brands (hello there, Xbox) to opening up imaginations for the strange, as well as the functional. We're also seeing a trend to streamline the already convenient interface between software and the user. This is where Microsoft's voice-controlled camera technology would come in.

Microsoft Camera Voice Control

So how could this be useful in everyday use? Many consumers have noticed with the camera button (excluding Lumia 920 owners) that image quality may suffer from sudden camera shake. This is easily solved by tapping the screen to focus on an object and to take a shot, but with voice commands available owners will be able to simply ask the phone to capture a photo without moving a finger.

More on voice-controlled photography

As one would expect, the technology works by converting the audio input of the user's voice into a command, much like the TellMe service that's currently available on Windows Phone. Example phrases could include "take photo" or even launching from the Start Screen with "Camera. Take photo." This would also be helpful for those who enjoy taking numerous self-portraits.

The image above shows what the patent details. The microphone (small dot next to the Windows button) would be utilised by the consumer to take a shot of what's displayed on the screen - much like what's already achieved with either the screen or shutter button. Patent Bolt notes the following as a possibility to enhance the experience with this technology:

"A user could also be given options (e.g., via a settings menu) to perform training to improve accuracy (e.g., by recording the user's voice speaking a default command) and/or to record a different command that can be used to replace a default command. Training can also take place automatically (e.g., by storing previously recognized commands) without user action."

It'll be interesting to see how far Microsoft takes this idea, if implemented. We could go further and talk about possible control over the Pictures Hub as well, including commands to keep or delete a photo, display previous captures and more. Wait, there are more possibilities? Of course, we can also look at the Xbox with Kinect and maybe even Windows 8 hardware.

It's worth noting that Microsoft filed the patent back in 2011 (notice the old Windows logo?), but the US Patent and Trademark Office published the application earlier this month. There's no information on when we can expect to see such features implemented in existing or upcoming products (if any at all). There's also no denying that the company is experimenting.

Source: Patent Bolt, via: Reddit

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Lovely
  • Cool
  • Hmmm... I wonder how that will affect Ready Click since it was already in the Windows Phone Store, and Microsoft certified it before the publication of the patent...
  • Not before the application date of the patent, which is in 2011. And readyclick cannot control flash, aperture and camera mode by voice
  • Woohoo. Nice.
  • ReadyClick!
  • What kind of a stupid patent is that??? Nice feature to add, but hardly a novel idea.
  • And we wonder why obesity remains a problem in America. New tech is great, but if we can't even press a bloody camera button anymore, we're not only fat but doomed, lol.
  • ⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆ LOL!!!
  • So you think pressing a button to take pictures will help you lose weight? Maybe for those with fat fingers... 
  • Exactly. lol.  24 hour Walmarts selling crap by the bag loads is why there is a obesity problem in the US. Not camera buttons.
  • People should try having more sex. That's what my girlfriend does and I look like a real life Sparta from the 300 movie. Never work out a day of my life.
  • I do have lots of sex...with your girlfriend!  :)
  • I think the point of this input method is for situations where you don't have your finger on the trigger. Like taking group shots where you don't want to be limited by the camera's timer, and want the camera to take the picture when, say, people say "cheese".
  • Anyway to reduce virbations when taking picutres is a good idea. Having to click a button or tap the screen can sometimes be the main cause of blur in a photo (especially low light situations).
  • So can this new technology be included as a software update for current phones or is it only for hardware (new upcoming phones)?
  • Most definitely software!
  • Microsoft needs to concentrate on what needs to be fixed in WP not gimmicks. LG already has this similar voice camera thing in their latest phones.
  • I was thinking gimmick as well. Not very innovative either.
  • Because MS only has one small team working on WP and they stopped everything they were doing to work on voice control for the camera...
    Natural voice interface is the future so we will only see more of this from MS, Apple, and Google. Star Trek or bust!
  • Damn what an extremely smart patent idea!!!
  • Can't tell if sarcasm, or......
  • Good call on your part. It is sarcasm. But not on Microsoft but rather on all the naysayers. Its an idea. We have no idea what it will look or perform like if it even materialize. But some are so quick to poo poo the idea. I'm like dang can we wait and see what happens so we can provide an informed opinion. So, for me it's a great idea until it proves otherwise.
  • You do know that the world is full of ridiculous, stupid ideas, right?
  • Obviously.  For example, people who take Meth.  Or drive home drunk.  This on the other hand not so much.
  • Is this new, or innovative?
  • Nope.
  • Well, the more features the better.. As long as they fix what's currently broken as well.
  • On a more serious note, I totally agree with you. I think the "now" is a bigger priority than the "gimmicky future" . . . at least for WP which still has much to prove if it wants to catch up.
    (btw, I love the OS. I'm just willing to admit the flaws.)
  • My body is ready... Over my head shots.. MySpace style. "take photo in 3 seconds"
  • Just a tad creepy. All love though, lol.
  • Nice
  • Set your camera up stand far and with a bluetooth put yourself in the picture no need for that 2 camera nonsense on the galaxy s4 
  • "Shoot me!"
  • Why can't I stop laughing?! Lol.
    New patent: Voice Assisted Suicide.
  • Sadly Apple already got that xD
  • Do they? What feature is that? ;)
  • Crap! They beat us again! lolol
  • Weird. Have they not seen the GS3/S4? It has voice camera controls already.
  • I bet the camera controls on the GS4 are just as useful as the other features (that don't work).
  • No clue. I don't have an S4 but I do have an S3 and I can speak to my camera. It isn't perfect but it comes in handy in certain situations.
  • Per the article, the patent was filed in 2011 - before the GS3/4 were on the market.
  • Good point, thanks.
  • I thought the same thing at first but the patent was filed before the the galaxy s 3. GS3 came out last year and this was submitted in 2011.
  • Windows phone users like to complain. Take a chill pill, pop a molly.
  • Abused patience turns into fury
  • Isn't tha new Xbox supposed to be revealed today, Monday the 20th??
  • This Tuesday mate the 21st
  • Guess that explains the recent app that asks you to say cheese
  • using voice commands in public kinda feels weird, even by your self.
  • Well, this would greatly reduce the shake and bluriness when you capture photos with greater shutter speed..
  • We already have a basic app for that. IntelliCam ...... It does the job pretty well...
  • So can this new technology be included as a software update for current phones or is it only for hardware (new upcoming phones)?camisetas de futbol
  • I hope there is more to this patent that meets the eye. In the current form, if TellMe has to figure out the command and click the photo, I am sure the subject would've left by then!
  • Before adding anything like this please add following essentials. Playlist (editable) File Manager more Resize options for Live Tiles. Video Sharing. eliminate empty space on Home Screen.
  • 1. You can create new playlists on your phone... but sadly, yes, you can only edit the playlist in Zune
    5. What empty space?
  • I mean Free Space on Home Screen on left and right side.
    I think Zune is not for WP8. so what WP8 users should do for editing playlists?
  • Gimmick
  • it would be good for a group shot..... say cheese and it takes a picture it beats giving your phone to a stranger
  • No wonder people here are so negative, as obviously this will only be coming to phones sporting the older logo button. Sucks to have new tech.
  • I would like to see some issues resolved with WP8, However I'm all for new and better features. This isn't all that bad really actually if you take a-lot of snaps with your cell phone this could be really good to use I notice that people move the device trying to snap that shot. seams to me that this would remove that issue for some.
  • Like it.
  • As if people don't talk to their phones enough already!
  • My Galaxy Note 2 already has this and so does the Galaxy S4. In fact there is a whole commercial with a kid hitting baseballs saying 'shoot"...and it is not a gimmick. ..I use it all the time. This patent should not be approved as there are already phones on the market that have it right the one I typed this comment with.
  • I believe the galaxy note 2 has not only voice activated shutter, but you can say various commands that decide what kind of picture to take...
    "Take Picture" - takes picture
    "Say Cheese" - Wait's till eyes are on camera and possibly waits for smile
    "Smile"  - waits for indiv or group to show teeth
    "Take video" - I think starts recording video
    I'd love to say other things like "Macro," "Focus back" or "Focus Front" - "start multishot" ... that would be pimp... :D
  • The application stands rejected.  The prior disclosure used to reject the Microsoft application is a Sony Ericsson application from 2006 that is now patented as US8207936.  See
  • Great I love it.
  • Of course, we can also look at the Xbox with Kinect and maybe even Windows 8 hardware. comprar camisetas de futbol