jay's old blog

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Accessibility, Multi Language Support and Natural Interfaces

[Ongoing series of blog posts to inform potential developers, users and (hopefully investors) about this new app ecosystem I am architecting, designing, developing and deploying. More details at this page]

For some reason, lately, I have become obsessed with the concept of making sure that folks (like my mother) who are unable to enjoy the fruits of what modern technology has to offer should at least enjoy what my ecosystem has to offer. I will admit, my interactions with my mother is the motivation for all this, and as a consequence, I have blogged my thoughts on that here, and here.

I understand that there is already a lot of work done in this domain. Accessibility features have always been included in every operating system. However, I am beginning to feel that they are mostly designed for western audiences and don’t really apply to someone like my mother. The idea here is to find out what is already being done in terms of accessibility, and figure out how I can improve upon them (if it is possible at all) and ensure that my mother user the cloud services and the apps that are going to part of this ecosystem.

One area where I am particularly interested in are natural interaction systems. This word has many meanings I am sure. To clarify, here is a simple example. Every morning, my mother takes over her empire which is her kitchen. While she is working, she likes to listen to music. She has already turned down my offer to get her a modern device such as the iPad for music listening and continues to insist that she wants to use the old knob based, button based radio that has been wedged in her kitchen for years.

These knobs and buttons (physical stuff) is what I define as natural interfaces or natural interaction systems. I have been observing the way she interacts with this radio and have been drawing some conclusions. I understand that she prefers the feedback it provides and also simplicity of it. Despite all these years of using touch screen devices, I still find it easier to type on my physical keyboard. If someone like me prefers the convenience of manual feedback, I can imagine how it must be for someone like her.

That means, I must design and probably build an interaction system that incorporates some kind of a physical feedback thing. At this point, all I have is an idea, or more like a target, an end game. Of all the things in my app ecosystem, the UI is the one thing that excites me the most. If I can make this happen, and I can figure out a way for my mother (and by extension mothers everywhere) utilize the benefits of modern cloud services, that would be my greatest achievement.

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