In 2014 I was working in a major law firm in Singapore. My boss was a high powered and successful corporate lawyer in his 40s. He had just returned to Singapore on the weekend after a gruelling series of business trips when he had a massive stroke. The stroke caused him to become partially paralysed and to lose his eyesight.
On one of my visits to see my boss as he recovered at home over the intervening years, I noticed that he only had access to a limited range of audio media. His sight had still not recovered sufficiently for him to select what he wanted to listen to. While he could ask his helper to switch on the radio or play a podcast or audio book, he did not have a way of browsing content from different providers. There was no easy way for him to hear the details of programmes which were available and for him to choose between them. I love listening to podcasts and this struck me as a great shame because here was a person who would enjoy a wide range of programmes, yet was unable to access them easily. It was then that it occurred to me that it might be a good thing if the world had a podcast app which (1) reads aloud the description of new podcast episodes and (2) makes it easy to navigate between episodes, programmes and podcast providers without having to see the screen.
So, since I knew how to code, I thought: it can't be that difficult to create a podcast app that achieves both (1) and (2). We tried various for the user interface, including pattern recognition if (for example) the user were to draw a symbol on the screen in order to give a command. In the end, after more than a year of intensive development, we decided that this approach was not intuitive enough and ultimately we settled upon the system of scrolling and swiping we use today. We feel that this is the easiest, quickest and most intuative way. The process of creating Eloquodpod has been much longer and more intensive than we expected, but we are happy that we perservered.
As voice activated technology gradually improves, it may be possible to achieve some of what Eloquodpod does by voice commands alone. We are considering how we could implement this in future versions. For the moment, we think the current approach does the trick. We are watching developments with Siri and considering whether we can build in better Siri integration in the future. In the meantime, we hope Eloquodpod provides enjoyment to all podcast listeners.
It is not the case that you have to have a visual impairment to use Eloquodpod. I enjoy using Eloquodpod myself as my primary podcast app - it is easy to flick between programmes and episodes. I hope you enjoy using it as well.
The Developer, November 2018