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 #9: Create an app that turns pages by itself

E-readers aren’t just meant to conserve paper. Like any innovations, they should also make life easier. We don’t need to lumber over to our nearest dictionaries every time a big word comes up. Additionally, lower costs of production are passed on in the form of cheaper books. The list goes on.

That’s all great for regular bookworms, but e-readers should be applied elsewhere as well. We just have to ask ourselves where paper is used and how e-readers can make life better in those cases. One example is in music. Having played in my school’s concert band for a few years, I remember the nuisance of using paper music notation. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like I always had to turn the page in the middle of my instrument’s solo. And I’m sure professional musicians have all had a similar problem as well. E-readers have already begun to solve this, as there are already digital versions of many songbooks, including this one. The problem is that there’s still no way to turn the pages without taking your hands off of your instrument.

The Concept:
Create a way to turn the pages. Or, in this case, a way to scroll through them.
Step 1: Instead of a side-to-side page layout, create a large up-and-down continuous page by placing each page under the previous one, so that it can be read in the same way as this blog and most other websites. Readers can scroll down bit by bit, just like they do with most PDFs online.
Step 2: Because music is obviously audible, set up a system of scrolling that removes a line of music from the page once it’s been played, then brings in another line at the bottom of the screen. (Or turn pages like slideshows as e-readers usually do. I guess it’s a matter of taste.)
Step 3: Record what the music should sound like. When the customer plays a part of a song, have the app calculate his/her place according to the recording on the page and move there.
In short, this uses sound-recognition technology to scroll through staff sheets of music automatically, with no physical contact with the musician.

The Pros:

  • This has multiple uses. For example, this system can be paired with voice-recognition technology to help public speakers, making an advanced teleprompter. I’m sure there are other ways to use this as well. Add a camera, and an entirely new dimension of possibilities opens up.
  • This doesn’t only have to be for the people at the center of an audience’s attention, either. In a future filled with e-textbooks in classrooms, an instructor can send students notes and visual aids beforehand. As s/he speaks, the notes will automatically jump to the relevant parts when the device hears the professor saying key words.
    • Adding sound recognition to an e-reader is also useful for voice commands such as “turn to page nine.”
  • A technology like this one shouldn’t be hard to create. It’s simply adding one more layer to music-recognition concepts like Shazam and Midomi.
  • If you charge for it, I imagine that you’re going to make quite a bit of money. The iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Kindle, nook, Sony Reader, and several other products have e-reading capabilities, and many have app stores, so the potential is huge.

The Cons:

  • I don’t think the Kindle has a microphone that will enable this. However, timing the scrolling so it matches the music’s tempo may work just as well.
  • If this is implemented for large groups of people who need to stay synchronized, such as orchestras, buying e-readers for everybody is difficult to justify when the price is compared to paper.
  • This isn’t so good for independent members of groups, either. A kid practicing his part during rehearsal may have interference due to his classmates playing different parts of the song.