The “Siri Effect” That’s Impossible to Measure

There are so many great posts, reviews, and critiques of Apple’s new iPhone 4S (with voice-controlled Siri), so I only briefly want to share a thought I had today about one aspect of Siri — the ability to control devices with speech. I immediately thought of those who are visually impaired or legally blind who are likely unable to really use a device like the iPhone to its fullest. Now with Siri (as the commercial below shows, skip to 0:58 seconds), blind people can literally talk to their phone, communicate by email and text on the go, and a host of other services. I couldn’t stop thinking about how incredible and magical this is. It isn’t about more market share, it’s about changing someone’s life in a truly meaningful way. (The addition of the cute seeing-eye dog is also marketing genius.) Then, I started thinking further – what about users who are vocally-impaired and/or unable to communicate in English? Could they use the front-facing camera one day to communicate through sign-language and/or facial recognition systems? And as Apple expands iOS + Siri to iPods, iPads, and other devices (and maybe even televisions or for navigation), imagine how transformative voice-controlled and image-controlled interfaces could be for those who, earlier, weren’t able to enjoy Apple’s products technology to their fullest.


About Semil Shah

Official contributor to @TechCrunch (since Jan 2011); from July 1, will begin EIR with @JavelinVP

One response to “The “Siri Effect” That’s Impossible to Measure”

  1. KevinKevin says :

    The Mac and iPhone come with Voiceover which is built into every Mac and iOS device—yes, even AppleTV. The screen reader is robust and has enabled and empowered the blind to use Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads in revolutionary ways. there are many blind users who are already using iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 with great success. iPhone 4S with Siri is icing on the cake for blind users. I’m blind and have been using an iPHone 3GS for two years. It has changed my life and the lives many other blind people I know.

    Siri will be a welcome addition to the tools available to the blind phone user as part of a bigger suite of universal design features with Apple products.

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