Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 – The Year We Can Talk about Using Automation the Way Judges (and People) Actually Work

Lenovo Yoga AnyPen
Apologies for the long title, but it is becoming clear that automation has finally caught up to the way judges actually work, by speaking and writing with a pen.

With the New Year comes the annual Consumer Electronics Show that is held in Las Vegas.  The product announcements there give us a glimpse of what is potentially coming in the near future.

New Pen Interface

One such announcement was Lenovo’s “AnyPen” technology.  The Techradar website explains:
“As the formal name suggests, any metal object can be used as a pen in order to control this 8-inch tablet that is a hair bigger than an iPad mini 3, but that Windows 8.1.
This specially-made Yoga Tablet 2 allows you to write and draw with a pen, pencil or, as Lenovo daringly says, even your keys or a fork”. 
Additional detail is provided in this article, and this article (with video).

For courts, one can see possibilities of this tech for a judge who needs to interact with both a screen and paper documents while on the bench.  Of course a retractable ball-point pen might be best in this scenario in order to avoid ink on the screen.

Speech Interface

The second major trend is that fast and accurate speech recognition is a reality for single users that are a result of the considerable growth in computer processing speed in recent years.  And before going further; no, I am not saying that automatically generated computer court transcripts are here yet.  There are other uses (such as voice recorders, but I digress).

Some of you may have been using Nuance’s Dragon Dictate Naturally Speaking.  They note for example on their website that law enforcement departments have been using speech recognition technology to help speed the creation of reports and forms.  The Arvada, Colorado Police Department is specifically cited in a case study.

And this short one minute YouTube video shows how it is used with a simple PDF form.

So it seems to me that there is potential to improve the speed of forms completion/data capture in the courtroom with this technology.  In particular I think that the process of sentencing defendants could benefit because:

First, most sentencing hearings are very structured in how this process is performed in the courtroom. Therefore the forms used for data capture (either static or dynamic) can be generally standardized (or at least standardized by judge).  If I were developing such a system I would make these web forms with flexible scripting to allow for local judicial customization.

Second, the judge’s exact words for the sentence can be recorded and stored in the CCMS along with the documents.  There is no reason not to capture and maintain this important record as it can solve many “downstream” questions and potential problems with the remainder of the criminal justice system.

More New Speech Tech

And other speech tech is providing additional opportunities.  Those of you with Apple iPhones may have tried out or use “Siri”.  But you may not know that Microsoft has included their competing “Cortana” in their Windows 10 test version releases.  A video showing this test version is available here.

Last, I greatly enjoyed the video demonstration of Amazon Echo.  Perhaps this is something in the future that visitors to the courthouse can use to ask questions such as which courtroom their case will be held in and directions to the jury room.

Consumer Reports shares their initial experience in this video.

It is always fun to follow new tech…


  1. Thanks, as always for new information. FYI, Cortana is already in use on Windows phones (we use one at home and love the OS/interface and Cortana).

  2. Really very informative post.I am totally impressed and You break it down nicely.

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