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Voice control for your camera? I was sceptical, but there's big potential

Sony voice control patent
(Image credit: Future)

Sony has applied for a patent on the technology for controlling a camera's interface and controls using voice commands. You could be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that this is a silly idea - I mean, who really wants to talk to their camera? What's more, given the patchy accuracy of in-car voice control system, should we really expect a camera's speech recognition accuracy to be high enough for such a feature to be truly usable? But I reckon there is some merit to the idea, providing Sony implements sufficiently advanced speech recognition algorithms. With high-end cameras getting ever-more complicated and feature-packed, tracking down the feature, function or command you want can be a frustratingly time-consuming endeavour. And heaven forbid you need to resort to the user manual for 'help'.

Rewind back to 2005 and if you were lucky enough to be rocking a Nikon D2x, it had the ablity to record voice memos (Image credit: Nikon)

Now, talking to your camera is nothing new. I verbally express my displeasure to a camera on a regular basis, should it not do what I want. But a more constructive camera/voice combo has been Nikon's Voice Memos feature. Though not voice control through speech recognition, this feature allows you to record a voice note to accompany an image - useful for making a quick reminder about the circumstances in which a particular images was captured. Voice Memos are nothing new, either, being a feature on cameras as old as the D2x, and it's still implemented on cameras like the Z6 II.

(Image credit: Future)

It's especially appropriate that Sony, of all camera manufacturers, should be applying for a voice command patent. Though I'm sure passionate Sony Alpha users will rave about the simple and logical layout of Sony's menu interface, I personally find the menu structure used by Sony mirrorless cameras to be less than intuitive. I should stress that I hold no particular camera brand preference - the biggest variable in camera performance is the fleshy mammal pressing the shutter button - but in my opinion, Canon's menu layout is the most intuitive. But should Sony leverage its considerable technological might and make a success of camera voice control, memorizing menu structures and going to the trouble of assigning frequently used functions to custom buttons could be a thing of the past.

Read more:

• These are the best Sony cameras to buy right now
• Discover the best lenses for Sony A6000 cameras
• We list the best mirrorless cameras you can get
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Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys.