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.
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.