Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wayfinder Access: audio demonstration

A few days ago I wrote a blog entry about Wayfinder Access - a GPS direction-finding solution ... a bit of software you can put on your mobile phone. It's meant for people with visual impairments and is optimised for those who have a mobile speech synth/screenreader like Talks or MobileSpeak.

Kate pointed out quite rightly that it has potential benefits for wobblers too, people with Cerebral Palsy whose direction finding abilities are somewhat crap because of all that spacial awareness built-in malfunction ... I hope I used the right medical terms? I think Kate refers to herself as Map Disabled.

Anyhoo, I've just found an MP3 on the net; an audio demonsstration of the product done earlier this month by a fella in North America called Earl Harrison. You've gotta love the internet!

mp3 Audio demonstration of Wayfinder Access. (if you click the link directly you will be waiting a minute
or two for the audio to load into your PC. Best idea if to save it to your hard disk so you have more control over it and maybe even transfer it to your iPod. right click on the link and 'save target as' and do your usual saving routine you'll be familiar with I'm sure)

What you'll hear -- Earl sspends about 5 or 10 minutes going through the product in his house. You can choose the destination you are travelling to at home, and have the route calculated before you leave your front door. (I think you can also browse the route and see its twists and turns before leaving home too but Earl doesn't show this)

It's crucial to know that you can use Wayfinder either on foot as a pedestrian or in a car. There are two different modes on Wayfinder - the 'in car' mode turns it into a gizmo very similar to Tom Tom with that classic SatNav cool calm controlled female voice we're used to. In 'pedestrian mode' it falls back to using the speech synth you have on your phone because speech synths can give you much more and better information than the built-in female satnav voice just mentioned. (speech synths can read street names, for instance, built-in satnav clear voices can only say pre-recorded limited info such as "in half a mile, turn left")

So, after Earl has setup the route in his house, he gets in a car and we go into car mode. We hear what Earl, as a blind passenger, gets from the experience. He can help navigate.

One thing blind people often have a problem with is giving good directions to car drivers if, for instance, we want to get back home. A pedestrian and driving experience can be much different hence this function gives you real control and the ability to stop faffing around and tell your mate exactly where you want to go, giving directions as you go along.

"But Damon, what does the front of this pub look like? There are a few here but I can't see the names because it's a bit dark"

"I don't blinking well know!"

atnav will at least take you to within about 30 feet of its front door.

Note there is also a 'taxi mode' but I don't yet know what this does. Remember I'm writing all this as someone who has googled about Wayfinder and not yet used the darn thing. The version I need isn't out for a week or two.

Next Earl gets out of his car and plots another route on his mobile that he is going to attempt as a pedestrian. We hear him walking along with his guide dog Patrick being told by the phone where to turn and how many feet until the destination on a regular basis.

So there ya go. It's deep blind tech so you may want to skip to the bit where Earl is in his car if you're not too bothered about the menu system on the phone and would rather just jump right to him using Wayfinder in action.

God the net is great! I've been waiting for someone to post an audio demonstration and here it is! Maybe I'll do one when I get the gizmo.

Any feedback or thoughts appreciated! And if anyone knows of any other audio demos, or is about to do one, email me or post here. I'd like to blog it.

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