Sunday, November 30, 2008

ShutterVoice - Be a Jean Luc Picard to Your Camera

Just how many of you would wanna be like Jean Luc Picard or James T. Kirk for having the "power" to control your camera just by enable it's functions with voice commands?

Command phrases like "Computer... On Screen", "Command Computer" or "Computer... Energize" were common sentences for the well known Star Trek series. From the old Captain James T. Kirk to the Jean Luc Picard and now for the upcoming Star Trek movie (take a look at the trailer here) voice commands were always impressive on screen but not so on computers.

Imagine a world where you could control your camera actions by the sound of your voice just by using simple commands like "Computer Focus", "Computer Shoot", "Computer Live View" or even "Computer Rotate". I'm sure this would improve your shootings and would leave your hands free to make something else.

Well I can tell you that I'm not Jean Luc Picard but with this new software that I'm going to show you today you can look like Jean Luc and control your Canon cameras remotely just by the sound of your pretty voice and you do not need to wait for the upcoming release of the new Star Trek movie to have it, trust me on this ;)

So let's take a look at this great piece of software called ShutterVoice made by Scott Forman.


Development Details:
ShutterVoice has been tested using a 20D, 50D, 30D, XSi and is compatible with Windows XP and Windows Vista. I plan on having the software released in December 2008. The software will cost $30 and I will take payments through PayPal. The software will be downloadable as a 30-day fully featured trial with no nag screens so the users can use it just as they will when they register it.


Short Description:
ShutterVoice allows full control over Shutter, Aperture, White Balance, Output, EV, Temperature, ISO, etc.

On the Live View screen you can turn the AF Points display on or off, Rotate Left, Rotate Right, show/hide the Grid, Focus all the way in with one command, Focus all the way out with one command, Focus in/out 1-15 (which is fine control), Focus More In, More Out 1-15 (which is more movement), Focus On.

On the Zoom View screen you have most all the same control as Live View in addition you have a Move Up/Down/Left/Right command in order to move the position that you are zoomed in on.


In Depth Description:
ShutterVoice uses two of my business grade components for error notification and for updates.

When errors occur a window will pop up allowing the user to send me details and their email. This goes a long way to eliminate bugs quickly during the beta period. In addition there is a Send Debug Info option that allows a person to send me additional data from within the software if they are having issues.

Every time the software first opens it checks my server for updates. If it finds one it will display a balloon pop up. The user only needs to click this popup in order to be automatically updated to the latest version.

Click on picture for bigger view.

Settings Screen
The Settings screen allows a person to set the Pre-Command word. This is the word that must be said prior to issuing voice commands. If a person would like, this can be cleared out so that no pre-command word is necessary. The Audible Command Verification allows you to turn on and off the text-to-speech voice responses. The Window Titles are configuration options that should not need to be changed from their default. The List of Loaded Commands are all of the commands that the voice recognition engine will listen for. For debug purposes this list can be double-clicked to send a command to EOS-U. This will be helpful for people who may have microphone or sound card issues but who would still like to test out the software's integration with EOS-U.

On Command: ShutterVoice's Commands &
Responses configuration screen.
Click on picture for bigger view.

Voice Commands/Voice Responses
The Commands screen will likely be most interesting to your visitors. This lists every command that can be given. The text in gray are command modifiers. For example, you can say: Camera Aperture Faster 3 which would move the Aperture faster 1 full stop (if you are using 1/3 stop settings). The Voice Command list loads with the default commands that I have setup. The user can change these to any command they would like to totally customize the software. For example a user could configure their software so they can say Canon Shoot! for a shutter release. The Voice Response list allows a person to configure what the text-to-speech engine says after a command is issued. If you would like certain commands to have no response you can simply clear out that command response while keeping other commands as they are. This screen allows full customization of the voice recognition and text-to-speech experience.

Click on picture for bigger view.

Voice Recognition Status
The Voice Recognition Status screen shows you the details coming from the actual voice recognition engine. A Hypothesis is something it has heard but hasn't certified as a command. A Recognition is something it has sent to the EOS-U to be performed.

For the most part recognition works very well but is heavily dependent on your sound card and microphone. My laptop worked great for voice recognition whereas my studio PC needed an updated Sound Blaster Audigy SE card as the onboard sound did not have a high enough microphone gain. The speech component installed in the Control Panel also allows you to train it to better work with your voice.

Feedback
It is important that you provide as much feedback as possible, especially during the beta testing phase. If you experience any problems or have any questions feel free to email the developer directly at scott@shuttervoice.com. If you have suggestions for additional features or changes please send them as well. ShutterVoice's goal is to make photography easier in situations where the photographer cannot be behind the camera. We are always looking for ideas to improve ShutterVoice to help photographers be more productive.

Here is a video for the demo version.



ShutterVoice is compatible with EOS Utility 2.4 and above.

He intends to begin making ShutterVoice more widely available starting in December 2008, these details are still being sorted out. You can sign up to be notified when ShutterVoice is ready to go.

And if you are winning because you are on MAC I can tell you that not all has been lost. I've been using it with great success over XP installed on VmWare Fusion, Parallels or BootCamp.

I can tell this software is a piece of work and glad Scott Forman had the time to make it up and also hope Canon would buy it and start releasing the future Solution disks with it embedded.

For now there won't be a MAC compatibility but maybe in the near future we could see this on MAC software. If you are a developer, have the skills and would like to help Scott Forman make it available for the MAC platform send him an email and maybe we could see this for MAC platform sooner than we think.

(All pictures and text on this page are copyrighted and were used with Scott Forman permission.)

Take a moment to know the man behind all this.

Scott Forman is 30, have been married for 8 years. My daughter Leigh is 7. My son Ethan is 4. We have two rat terrier chihuahua's. I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska (a city of 500,000).

He started programming at a very young age with a Radio Shack TRS-80. It had to hook up to a TV and used an audio cassette for data storage. In High School he wrote and sold software to interface with the then popular America Online. His most popular software then was an auto-redialer to get past AOL's busy signals and the second was an automatic idle window dismisser to keep people online if they stepped away from the computer. He sold around 500 copies.

During college he worked as a computer tech at Best Buy and wrote a piece of software to manage the work-orders. After college he had an internship at Joslyn Art Museum and rewrote their kiosk software to create an easy-to-use touch screen administration interface.

Through that work he was offered a job at the company who wrote it despite normally only hiring people with 10 years+ professional experience. He declined that offer and instead took one at a small company that was originally founded by one of his past Taekwondo instructors, although he had since sold his stake and moved on. After working there for several years he resigned and became self-employed.

He has been on his own now for over 4 years and his primary focus is information management systems which he develops from the ground up. His primary development intent is to create custom platforms for information storage that yields higher productivity and better work flow. His largest piece of software is a case management system for Behavioral Health and the second is a CRM for Nurse and Technologist Staffing.

You can also find more information about Him here.
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