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.