Kindle Hands free reading? Speech to text? Kindle 3 microphone

One of the features of the new Kindle 3 that hasn’t received much attention is the tiny microphone at the bottom. Thanks a ton to John Holloway for pointing this out and speculating about what it might mean. 

The Kindle Help pages clearly show that there is a tiny microphone lodged between the headphone Jack and the micro-USB port. They include this snippet -

Microphone: Kindle (Latest Generation) is built with a microphone jack. This feature is not yet enabled and is for future use. 

Aah … the deliciousness of speculating on what Kindle 3 features the microphone might enable.

Kindle 3 microphone – What cool features might it enable?

There are a lot of potential Kindle 3 features that instantly come to mind -

  1. Voice Activated Page Turns for hands free reading.
  2. Speech to Text.
  3. Voice Activated Menus.
  4. Adding Notes by speaking them out.
  5. Adding Voice Notes.
  6. A voice journal that stores our notes and ideas.
  7. A journal that converts what you say to words.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What Kindle Apps will the microphone enable?

We are going to see a Kindle App Store at some point of time – that means we will have developers playing with the microphone and extending what it’s used for.

At the minimum we’ll get – notes, text to speech (if Amazon doesn’t provide it first), voice recording, spoken word journals, voice commands in apps, and perhaps voice activated games. There’s also the chance that developers use the microphone in ways we don’t anticipate – Karaoke? Another interesting area is using the microphone with sheet music and comparing how accurately you play or overlaying what you’re playing with an underlying track.  

Note: Kindle Apps currently can’t access sound on the Kindle so Amazon would have to enable both the speakers and the microphone for some of these Kindle app ideas to be implemented.

Are there more hidden surprises in Kindle 3?

It’s remarkable that in the middle of – adding WiFi, doubling the battery life and memory, improving PDF support, making page turns faster and fonts sharper – Amazon managed to add-in a microphone and lay down the foundation for hands free Kindle reading and Kindle speech to text.

It makes you wonder what other surprises Amazon has in store for us with the Kindle 3. Perhaps the Kindle 3 microphone and support for CJK fonts (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) and Cyrillic fonts are the only hidden features. Perhaps there are more. It’ll be interesting to see what Amazon does with the Kindle 3 microphone and whether we get hands free Kindle reading and Kindle Speech to Text in the next 6 to 12 months.

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