Google+ Hangouts were already popular with users who communicate with sign language, but thanks to improvements in video stability and a new "Take the Floor" feature, Google's group video chat capability just got a lot more accessible for everyone.
Switching between speakers in Hangouts is automatic using voice activation, where whomever is talking the most (or the loudest) is shown in the main video area, and all others are seen in smaller video thumbnails. Sounds great, and that automatic switching is one of the coolest features of Google+ Hangouts.
But that wasn't working as well for hearing-impaired users in chat areas where all users were signing â€” the main screen was usually occupied by whichever user's microphone was picking up the most background noise. As a result, most users were often trying to read the sign language of people who were shown on tiny thumbnail screens.
Google's fixed that with its new "Take the Floor" feature. In a Google+ post, Google engineering director Chee Chew explained how it works:
1) Have everyone mute their audio.
2) When you want to sign something, hit Shift+s.
3) When you see yourself as the main video, that's your cue. You've got the floor... everyone's main video has switched to you. Sign away.
Chew added, "We've noticed over the past few weeks that the stability and quality of the video in Hangouts has improved as well, which also makes it easier for the hearing impaired to see and understand sign language."
Great idea, Google.
Author: / Posted: 14-09-2011