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July 21, 2003

Subtitling Life

Jo Walton asked whether it would be possible to have real-time speech recognition at panels, linked to wirelessly networked palmtops. This would allow the many deaf, or partially deaf, fans to participate more fully.

Thinking about it, I realised a much lower-tech solution is being spun around us now, in the form of the collaborative Hydras appearing wherever two or more Mac OS X users are gathered together. Here's the Hydra transcript of the VoxPolitics seminar I went to the other night, and here's a review of Hydra live.

Hydras require no configuration beyond having the program on your wireless-equipped Mac laptop. Participating in a Hydra is fun; it enhances your experience of the panel rather than being a chore. The product isn't just an aid for the deaf; it can include comments that reflect what people thought of what was being said, and provides a permanent record of the panel.

If you have a data projector (and these are so startlingly useful at conventions that they'll be commonplace soon) you can hook one laptop up to the data projector, zoom the text, and broadcast the Hydra to the entire room.

Oh, this is all such a fun idea. And, incidentally, it will provide more ambient information to a deaf congoer than even a top-flight personal lipspeaker would.

Posted by Alison at July 21, 2003 09:04 PM


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