Cool Idea: Cohdoo Audio Highlighting

Just in case: I have not bought, used, or been given the Cohdoo Highlight app. As a matter of fact, I don’t own an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad. (I do still use my iPod Classic, but that doesn’t count, does it?) This app just recently caught my eye, and I figured I’d cover it because I like the idea so much. I have, however, tried and liked Dragon Dictation. Again, though, I found it on my own and haven’t been paid to use or mention it. If you’d like to contribute your experience with either app, please feel free to do so in the comments section

As an editor and writer for the school newspaper, I record my interviews, either in writing or digitally. While using an electronic recorder lets me to keep track of the conversations I have, I usually prefer to use a pen and paper so as to have my own version of things. This approach lets me jot down questions, organize thoughts, and underline the most important information to make the writing process that much easier.

Of course, my preference comes with a caveat; very few people can write quickly enough to keep up with a conversation while maintaining full attention to detail.  Tapes and digital recorders, of course, don’t have that issue. Eventually I wondered whether you could combine the perfect “memory” of a digital recording with the ability to draw attention to the most important snippets of whatever is going on in real time. The solution doesn’t have to be complicated, and I’m fairly certain it isn’t. If a manufacturer were to add a button that could be depressed and returned to normal by users, and if the recording had a special indicator, the interview process would be easier by leaps and bounds than it currently is.

Enter Cohdoo Highlight. It’s an app for iOS devices that allows for just what I described. Recordings appear to work just as they do on the iDevices’ built-in Voice Memos app, with the significant addition of a big “Mark Highlight” button in the center of the screen. As one might guess, users tap the button to visually highlight the parts they deem important.

For journalists, this still isn’t a perfect substitute for scratch paper to record thoughts and new questions. And there will always be the occasional Luddite source who prefers that the reporter not use any recordings. Of course, there’s also the risk that this might cause some information loss in the hands of writers on tight deadlines, giving them a tool that lets them skim over their interview files and miss the content they forgot to highlight. But the benefits here are pretty significant, and the idea has applications in many places. Take this quote from a student reviewer, for example.

We really enjoyed having the ability to highlight important parts of each recording. While listening to a lecture, we took written notes while using the Cohdoo Highlight to record the lecture. As the instructor emphasized on important points, we highlighted those parts and noted the highlight number on our notes for our future reference when cramming. Compared to Voice Memos this app definitely has significantly better features which make the app absolutely a charm to use when recording and especially when listening to recorded content.

(“Cohdoo Highlight Review” by Erphan Al-Delgir)

The logical next step would be to apply this not just to audio but to other recorded media. I’m looking forward to seeing new iterations of the idea. As a side note, how about combining Cohdoo Highlight’s features with a speech transcription app such as Dragon Dictation?

For more information on Cohdoo or the $4.99 Highlight app, check out the company’s products page and the blog. Apparently, they’re working on a few updates.


Idea #12: A voice-activated iPhone camera app

I don’t own an iPhone and I’ve decided to hold off on buying an iPod Touch until it includes a camera, but it seems to me that there’s an inherent problem with putting a camera in any device that thin and light. Because pushing the button (or tapping the screen) has much more of an effect on movement than it would on, say, a digital SLR, shots likely come out with some shaky blur. Unfortunately, the final photos are usually not pretty.

The Concept:
Beautify iPhone photos by creating an app that takes pictures just as the iPhone does, but without the shaky pictures. Except in cases that involve the subject moving too fast for the camera’s shutter, blurriness is usually caused by the natural jerky motion that people create when they press and release the button that takes the photo. Some of that motion is inevitable, but a large part of it comes from the specific act of pressing the button. Instead of doing things that way, build an app that listens for a distinct sound (such as a key word or a very loud noise such as a yell). That sound triggers the camera to shoot.

The Pros:

  • Because this idea is an app, there’s no extra equipment required. Just the iPhone (or another camera) and the app.
  • This has applications for moments that would usually require a tripod. For example, if a person needs to take multiple shots (say to create, an HDR image), he/she needs to keep his/her hands still, or else the pictures will be very hard to edit together due to “frame shift.” Using this method, though, no contact needs to be made with the device, so jittery hands are not an issue.
  • This opens up a whole new dimension of photography on the iPhone.
  • I’m just throwing this out there, but a sound-activated camera may also be useful for surveillance or animal watching. For example, a specific birdsong could act as a trigger.
    • The problem is that the sound may come from any source, whether it’s in the camera’s view or not. A bird chirping behind the device would trigger a shot without the actual bird.

The Cons:

  • There’s a photographer-camera coordination issue here, so this isn’t a great idea for self-portraits, unless there’s a self-timer. Without one, the photographer/subject will be in pictures that feature his or her mouth wide open.
  • This won’t do much to reduce blur in pictures of moving objects.

There are several tips concerning shaky photos written specifically for the iPhone. Check out one of the more comprehensive lists that I found at