Features like Live Tiles in Windows may be nothing more than a good visual representation of information, while others like speech recognition are only scarcely used. But to those with physical disabilities, those features are life changing.
To one Tyler Schrenk, who was paralyzed from the neck down in an accident, Microsoft’s Surface tablet and Xbox console have transformed the way he interacts with the virtual world. Thanks to features like speech recognition and speech-to-text dictation, in addition to accessories like a high-quality microphone, Schrenk can now navigate his way around; using Internet Explorer to keep up with news and sports scores, Outlook for email, and even Excel to track dietary intakes. Meanwhile, the Xbox One comes with voice recognition built right in for easy navigation and app switching, allowing him to catch up with his Netflix shows and movies.
“If nothing else, the Surface opened my eyes … and I realized the possibility of doing much more than just occasionally checking my email,” Schrenk says. “I am much more motivated to read because it is much easier.”
The future looks brighter for those with disabilities thanks to technology like Kinect that could potentially be used to recognize sign language and translate it to text, in addition to helping children with autism interact with technology in a natural way. The possibilities are endless.