Research trends: Turning static documents into tailored experiences for each reader

August 11, 2022

Tags: AI & Machine Learning, Document Intelligence

Wondering which trends and ideas will shape the technology of the future? We talked to a few members of the Adobe Research team to find out.

Nanda Kambhatla, Head of Adobe Research in India, talked to us about the ways documents will someday come to life for each individual reader—from text that transforms into a video right when you need it, to AI that allows a document to dive deeper into the areas that interest you.

What are some of the trends you’re most excited about in the world of documents?

In some ways, we’re seeing rapid innovation in documents, but some aspects seem to be stuck in a time warp. For example, a lot of documents are intended for digital consumption, so they never see a printer in their lifecycle—yet we tend to think of documents with a form factor of 8 ½ by 11 inches. There’s no reason for that.

In fact, in today’s world we’re not always going through those steps of creating, editing, publishing, and printing. Often, a person creates content and posts it on social media right away. Then someone else reacts to it instantly. The gap between creation and consumption is rapidly disappearing.

At the same time, AI technologies are changing what’s possible. So the trend I’m seeing is that documents are becoming more dynamic, interactive, personalized, and immersive.

As all of these elements come together, I think the notion of reading a document will become different for different people. How you or I consume the exact same content may vary depending on our circumstances, including when, where, on which device, and for what purpose we’re reading it.

Can you give us some examples of the ways you think we’ll experience documents in the future?

Currently the experience of reading any particular document is pretty much the same for anyone on the planet.

But imagine if you could instantly go deeper into the information you’re interested in, or get a summary of something you want to understand quickly, just by tapping. Once you can zoom in and out beyond the document, an interactive experience emerges.

You could also have documents that automatically convert from one modality to another. For example, your car’s user manual is a book, but consuming it as a book may not work when you’re on the side of the road trying to change a tire. What if AI could automatically convert the relevant section of the book into a two-minute video that walks you through the steps?

Let’s consider another example. Let’s say students in a virtual classroom are reading a document together. What if they could all interact, collaborate, and ask questions of each other, the teacher, and to AI that understands the document and the collaboration? They can benefit from the collaborative session.

The key is bringing out content that’s most useful to each user. One way to do that is for the author to say, ‘I can imagine 40 different ways people could consume this content,’ and then create them all. But what if we could use AI to do this instead?

What role do you think AI will have in the future of documents?

If we start with deep understanding of documents by AI, then we can use that to transform content—on the fly—into the modality that makes it easiest to consume for the reader, or most relevant at that moment. This way, “reading” a document can mean something different to each person.

The experience would be akin to talking to a human. Think of how a talented teacher interacts with students—they tailor their conversation to the unique needs of the individual, considering where they may need more help or more review. That’s the kind of thing I think we are headed toward with documents.

What changes do you think we’ll see in documents over the next ten years?

I think the boundaries between modalities will disappear rapidly. Is something a video or is it a text-based article? It will all become very fluid. At the touch of a button you’ll be able to change modalities very quickly. More importantly, you’ll be able to get to the precise information that interests you in a manner that’s best suited for your situation and context.

Which trends are you following outside of the world of documents?
I’m interested in collaborative creativity. If millions of people are creating different things online in their own environments, how can the fact that they are all doing it simultaneously help each of them? How can the way people are editing a photo or creating a meme in Bangalore or San Jose right now help influence what others are trying to achieve now? I’m excited to see how AI can help.

Wondering what else is going on at Adobe Research in Bangalore? You can learn more here.

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