Of the estimated 285 million people who are visually impaired around the world, 90 percent live in low-income settings, while 80 percent of cases could be cured or prevented, according to the World Health Organization.
Cool Blind Tech’s James Oates
Spotlight Interview with Jenny Lay-Flurrie,
Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft
Owners of the fourth-generation Apple TV are slowly starting to get more television subscription options. In addition to Sling TV, Apple TV owners can now subscribe to PlayStation Vue. PlayStation subscriptions start as low as $29.99 per month. Click here to see a list of all the stations and packages available in your area.
At Microsoft’s second annual Connect Online Developers Conference, there were many exciting announcements. Here are just a few:
Electric and hybrid vehicles purchased after September 01, 2019 are required to make noise when traveling less than 18.6 MPH. These cars are very quiet and endanger the lives of pedestrians, especially the blind and visually impaired. Congress passed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act in 2010, and the NHTSA was supposed to have rules in place by January 2014. The delays have put the lives of many blind and visually impaired pedestrians at risk. The full text of the rule can be seen here.
Two engineers at Microsoft have developed an iOS app that makes it possible for people with color blindness to distinguish colors using an iPhone camera and an app called Color Binoculars. Here is a description from the developer:
Using your iPhone’s camera, Color Binoculars adjusts the colors that you see to replace difficult color combinations, like red and green, with more easily distinguishable combinations, like pink and green. Color Binoculars supports all three common forms of color blindness. Whether it’s picking out flowers for a loved one, experiencing the beauty of nature, or choosing matching clothes for your outfit, let Color Binoculars help you take a better look at the world.
Color Binoculars is a Microsoft app that was developed as part of the Microsoft Garage Project.
The competition among so called smart speakers is heating up. This is no doubt fueled by Google and other players looking into entering this game; The natural interaction it could provide would result in a huge technological shift across our societies again. Later, its maturity could even embrace a screen-driven design, where you can still use voice but read your feedback visually, for those who are hard of hearing or deaf. I would suspect that others with various disabilities impacting speech could still use a speech-to-text tool and communicate with such devices, though at that point the timeliness of return diminishes a little – couldn’t they just type these same responses directly to the AI?
With the updated PayPal app, you can send money to anyone in your contacts list by just telling Siri, “Send John Doe $50 using PayPal.” John Doe will receive an email confirming that you sent him $50. It is incredibly simple to send and receive money this way.
Facebook is also integrated with Siri in iOS 10. To post to Facebook, just tell Siri, “Post to Facebook.” Siri will ask you what to post, and then Siri will confirm with you before posting. I think I might start posting to Facebook more often now. To find out more about using apps that are integrated with Siri in iOS 10, listen to our podcast on Siri integration.
John Froehlich of the Makeability lab at the University of Maryland has developed a fingertip camera that is only 1mm in width. This camera is linked with a computer, and reads text when the camera is moved across a page. The device gives audio cues and haptic feedback to help the user position the device. The device is nicknamed HandSight, and it was originally developed for endoscopies. Although there are already many ways to scan and read text, it can be difficult for visually impair people to understand the layout of text. This device can help with multi-column formats. To find out more about HandSight, read this article from New Scientist.
Apple will soon be launching a new app called Apple Support. The app allows users to access support articles for the iOS devices registered to their Apple ID. You can also seek support by email or phone call from within the app. Finally, the app allows you to schedule repairs at an Apple Store or with a registered service provider. You can also access support on Twitter @AppleSupport