Friday, October 24, 2008

White Stick for the Blind Gets Sensor Upgrade with "Tactile Wand"

Designer Jin Woo Han has created the "Tactile Wand" as a 21st-century conceptual white stick for the blind. The rechargeable gadget uses some sort of distance sensor and communicates by buzzing, letting the user know of upcoming obstacles: the stronger the buzz, the nearer the object. Neat design, Jin, but can it detect doggy doo like the old-fashioned stick could? What happens if the batteries die when you're mid-street crossing? We reckon it would take some re-education of cops too: pointing a strange looking stick at people in public these days is probably a big no-no.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

B&D Messenger Helps the Blind Read SMS

The B&D messenger, designed by Okada Noriaki, bills itself as a way for both blind and deaf people to communicate via text message. Though there are several Braille phone products already in the market, Noriaki device is much smaller in size and pretty inexpensive. On one side of the gadget is twelve points that rise and fall in braille lettering; on the other side is a small LCD screen and a regular numerical touch pad. Users must connect the B&D messenger to a computer for it to receive and translate texts.

Noriaki lowered the B&D's cost by building it's chassis out of cardboard (the entire thing can be put together yourself), and by running its braille lettering program off an open source platform. I'm not completely sure how this technology helps deaf people any more regular phones, but it's a cool concept for helping out the visually impaired.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hands-Free GPS Device for the Blind Could Make You a Superhero

The Navigation aid for the Blind headset is a GPS device, which not only works through speech recognition, but also uses obstacle detection technology that alerts the blind of any sleeping bums or other obstructions he could trip over as he is being guided to his destination.

In 2003, we reported on a GPS navigation device that led the visually impaired to their impending doom due to an "inaccuracy" of the system.

Although this new GPS device is not as cuddly as a guide dog, it is made up of one earpiece and microphone, which would allow the blind a certain anonymity, kind of like Daredevil, in that he would no longer need a cane or furry pet, which would leave both of his hands free ... to fight crime, perhaps?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Video iPods In Special Education

This video is about the use of video iPods in a special education classroom which caters for children with intellectual disabilities and language or hearing difficulties such that sign language (ASL) is their primary mode of communication. We hear from the teacher, the classroom’s primary interpreter, and parents and siblings about how useful the iPods have been. At first the teacher was understandably skeptical about how helpful iPods could be for a bunch of non-verbal children, but the range of novel uses for the iPods is fantastic to see.

Some of the things the video iPods were used for:

Sending verbal or video messages between teachers and parents instead of written messages.
Recording the kids’ accomplishments in class to show the teachers.
Recording stories read to the class, showing the book pages and sign interpreter and hearing the audio of the book being read.
Making videos of sign language vocabulary appropriate to the current curriculum so families could learn to talk to the students about what they had done at school.
Making video tutorials for specific signs requested by the family.
I’ve probably forgotten a few in there. I was awed by the special education teacher and interpreter and their willingness to try new things and to make the greatest possible use of technology. Good on you!

Who else is using the audio or video abilities of the iPods in classrooms? I’d love to post more stories about this topic.

Video Link: Introducing iPods into Special Education

- Ricky Buchanan, ATMac

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Circus Ponies Notebook 3.0 for Mac users

Circus Ponies NoteBook 3.0 for Mac users helps you organize your information naturally, using a familiar notebook interface, complete with pages and tabs, sections and subsections. Add notes and
Drag in files and folders. Even "clip" web research, mail messages and other
content into your Notebooks without leaving the application you're working in.
Try the free 30-day Trial

Notebook 3.0 comes with the following features:
Take control of your notes
Are you drowning in sticky notes? Boxes of note cards? Do you remember where to find that important web clipping?

Circus Ponies NoteBook is the application that helps Mac users manage all those bits of information that lack a good home

Track your Tasks

Actions Items. Tasks, To dos. Whatever you call them, you probably have quite a few. The challenge is staying on top of them all. NoteBook's built-in tools make managing your to dos a snap.

Manage Your Clips

Use NoteBook "Clipping Services" to copy web pages, e-mails, and other content directly into your Notebooks, without ever leaving the application you're working in.

Organize your personal and professional projects

More than just an outliner or text processor, NoteBook is a management software that supports Mac users at every stage of a project. In addtion, you can export your Notebooks to PDF for easy sharing, or use NoteBook's instant web publishing to convert them to websites for anywhere access.

Click on this link to Play a Video Tutorial

Circus Ponies Website:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hands On: Sony's New PRS-700 Touchscreen Reader

Sony brought out a new Reader tonight in NYC that adds a six-inch touchscreen to the e-ink e-reader for adding notes and annotations, as well as a redesigned case and built-in frontlight. With the touchscreen readers can enter text with a stylus on a full-screen QWERTY keyboard to add notes and annotations, search for specific phrases or just flip through the page with a stylus or finger swipe. It'll hit at the end of October for around $400. Hit the jump for more impressions.

Text gets entered by tapping an on-screen QWERTY. Highlighting seems easy enough—just drag the stylus over the phrase you want to highlight. You can then easily search for that phrase elsewhere in your book. You can also tap the screen with finger or stylus to zoom in and out of pages. Format support is the same as previous readers, with the same added .epub support.Response on selecting text and zooming around is a little slow, as is the auto text completion when you're typing a note—typing with fingers is very tough, but with the stylus not so bad. Flipping through the pages with your finger is the most natural thing for the touchscreen and for that it's great.

Bottom line—at $100 more over the PRS-505 you get a built-in frontlight (a $70 add-on on its own) and the ability to annotate while you read. Like the other Sony Readers it's not super responsive (which makes touch controls more frustrating as a rule), but it gets the job done. It's worth noting that Kindle has been able to take notes since the beginning, and it adds web connectivity to the mix, of course. But if you're a chronic underliner and margin scribbler like me and you favor Sony for your e-booking, it's probably worth the premium.

Full press release:

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 2, 2008- With the latest edition of Sony’s Reader Digital Book, announced today, readers can truly let their fingers do the walking.

An interactive touch screen display allows for the most intuitive digital reading experience to date. The new model, PRS-700, will join the PRS-505 model in the Reader family to give consumers a choice of how they would like to read electronically.

Svelte and stylish, the newest Reader still sports the dimensions of a slimmed down paperback book. The textured black casing and soft black cover contribute to its envy-inspiring design. And, at about 10 ounces, it’s the perfect way to carry all of your favorite books with you wherever you go.

A sizeable six-inch display with touch screen capability allows booklovers to flip pages with the slide of a finger. In addition, readers can easily search terms within a document or book, create notes using the virtual keyboard and highlight text with the included stylus pen.

Five pre-set text sizes are available so readers can find the one most comfortable for them and for those who need an even closer look, zooming in is as easy as tapping the screen.

The device still features high-resolution, high contrast electronic paper display technology which provides a reading experience very much akin to ink-on-paper. The result is crisp text and graphics that are highly readable, even in bright sunlight. For times when ambient light is not available, Sony is the first to offer a built-in LED reading light.

Expanded memory offers enough capacity to store about 350 average digital books. Using optional removable Memory Stick Duo media or SD memory cards, this Reader can hold literally thousands of books and documents.

“Readers now have another choice in digital books,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s Digital Reading Business Division. “This new model has the eye-popping design and intuitive functionality that people have come to expect from Sony.”

Family Resemblance

Like its close relative the PRS-505model, the new 700 model uses minimal power and can sustain up to 7,500 pages of continuous reading on a single battery charge. It supports multiple file formats for eBooks, personal documents and music. With the included eBook Library 2.5 PC software, you can easily transfer Adobe PDF documents with reflow capability, Microsoft Word documents, BBeB files and other text file formats to the Reader. The device can store and display EPUB files and work with Adobe Digital Editions software, opening it up to almost a limitless quantity of content.

Improved Sony eBook Store

Sony’s eBook store will also have a new face. This month, a re-designed page layout with more prominent book cover art will improve the overall visual appeal of the site. A streamlined checkout process along with updated search and discovery make finding and purchasing an eBook a breeze.

Pricing and Availability

The new Reader will be available next month for about $400. It will come complete with a USB cable, eBook Library PC companion software and a color-coordinated, protective soft cover. Both the PRS-505 and the PRS-700 models along with their optional accessories can be purchased direct through, at more than 40 Sony Style® stores nationwide and at authorized retailers across the country.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Speel Check for Ipodtouch and iPhone

Achoom from iTunes
No internet Connection Required. Loads quickly and answers your query. Just enter a word into the text field and Spell Check will tell you if the word is correct or supply you with a list of possible spellings (see screenshot). The application can be downloaded directly from iTunes or from your iPodTouch

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 2.0 and iPod Touch
Language: English

Friday, October 3, 2008

Google Gears: Use Web Applications offline

Google Gear is a technology that lets Gears-enabled Web sites store information on your hard drive. In that way, you can use the services even when your Internet link has gone down. Currently, Gears works with with Google Docs but not Spreadsheets or Presentations. You can view your Google Reader feeds offline, WordPress blogging system, ZohoWriter word processor, and Remember the Milk info manager.

The first time you visit Google Docs after you install Gears, you see a link labeled Offline in the top-right corner of the screen. Click it to open the Gears warning. After you allow the service to store information on your PC, the sync begins.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Google's Android not an iPhone

Google's plans for the mobile phone market have caused quite the stir Monday, even though the company's press conference Monday morning didn't add much to what we already knew about Android, a collection of software that could be a catalyst for Linux on mobile phones over the next few years.
(read more)


software has never sounded so good or been so affordable.

NaturalReader is a Text to Speech software with natural sounding voices. This easy to use software can convert any written text such as MS Word, Webpage, PDF files, and Emails into spoken words. NaturalReader can also convert any written text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV for your CD player or iPod.

NaturalReader saves eye strain – relax, sit back and listen
NaturalReader saves time - listen while driving, exercising or enjoying nature
NaturalReader helps writers – improve by listening to your work
NaturalReader teaches second language students – expand your experience and understanding by listening to any text at any speed

Click on the link below:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Solar-powered hearing aids improve life in developing nations

The SolarAid really isn't much different than your average hearing aid in function -- it enables hearing-impaired individuals to get a better listen at the world around them. The difference, however, comes from its source of energy. Through a series of tragic and fortunate events, Howard Weinstein wound up in Africa with a goal in mind: to concoct a hearing aid that even the poorest of citizens could afford. Through a series of grants and help from hordes of deaf individuals that had no qualms holding a soldering iron, some 20,000 folks in 30 countries are currently using the solar-powered devices. Best of all, the mastermind isn't slowing down, as he's looking to expand the nonprofit into the Middle East, China and India in the not-too-distant future.