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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 March 2010 Issue  Volume 11  Number 1

AccessWorld News

Wayfinder Access GPS System Discontinued: Future of Product Dims

The German telecom giant, Vodafone, has purchased Wayfinder, the cell phone-based GPS technology provider. Just as suddenly it appears that the plug has been pulled on any future development of Wayfinder.

Neil Barnfather, owner of TalkNav, the largest distributer of Wayfinder, posted the following statement on the Access Mailing List.

Dear All,
I had hoped to have more definitive information for you before having to make a statement about this.

My information is as follows:
Wayfinder have indeed terminated the Access application in terms of future development, TalkNav had hoped to purchase the application in order that it be further developed as a TalkNav GPS product under our control. Unfortunately this was rather suddenly and inexplicitly dropped at Wayfinder's end. This was quite a shock to us all at TalkNav, as we were quite extensively through negotiations and were but days away from signing a contract. We have no official word from Vodafone or Wayfinder as to why they would have chosen not to allow our acquisition of the product, however since that is what they have chosen to do, we have no further course of action available to us.

Existing customers we are assured will continue to receive full service and support from Wayfinder, the licenses that you have are fully valid and Wayfinder have informed us that they will honor the terms to which these licenses were sold.

In terms of future sales, the product is officially no longer being developed; however, we and no doubt other dealers, have stock licenses available. Wayfinder is allowing these to be sold at this time, and under the above clause that they'll not terminate support or service, you can be assured of use from your Access purchase.

You may ask why buy something that isn't being developed any further, it's a good question. For me I'd look at the alternatives, sure they maybe being onwards developed, however, Access still to date remains the cheapest blind accessible GPS product, and with Wayfinder assuring ongoing support / service, you can be assured that your product will last for a good while yet. Sure Access has some problems, but given the alternatives and their costs, the point is it's still to me a worthy consideration.

What of course is obvious is that once the remaining stock licenses are gone, that as they say, is that. They'll be no further way of purchasing Access licenses.

We are advised that we can offer up the following e-mail address to users for those who require more information; however, please note that they've not been able to tell us anything more, thus it's likely that they won't answer your questions along the above bases in any further detail. By all means though, if you wish please do try.

Support.access@wayfinder.com
Kind regards.
TalkNav

Cell Phone Updates

Stay tuned to AccessWorld for more in-depth articles on some new exciting developments in the world of cell phone accessibility. In the meantime, here are some quick bullets on the latest news:

  • Phones with the new Android operating system from Google are now on the market, and several accessible apps as well as a general screen reading app are being developed. On January 6, Google released its own phone, the Nexus 1, an unlocked phone that is not restricted to one particular service provider.
  • Nuance has released version 4 of TALKS for Symbian phones, and Code Factory has announced version 4 of Mobile Speak for Symbian and Windows Mobile phones. Mobile Speak for Windows Mobile phones now supports touch screen phones.
  • With the release of version 6.3.1, the KNFB Reader Mobile software is now compatible with several additional Nokia phones. It allows for use of a trial license for a 14-day free evaluation period. The Nokia phones supported are the E71, N79, N82, N85, N86, N95 8 GB, N95 North American model, and the Nokia 6220 Classic.

Moshi Travel Alarm Clock

The Moshi Voice-Controlled Travel Alarm Clock is the newest iteration of the innovative voice-activated design from Moshi Lifestyle. Although it was not designed specifically for visually impaired customers, it is a decided improvement over the original model, and it is completely accessible. Although instructions are provided only in print, the clock is so easy and intuitive to use, reading them is almost unnecessary.

The clock measures about 2-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches, fitting easily into the palm of one's hand. On the top are two bars to press: A short one, called the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) button, and a longer one used to light the display or tell the alarm you want to snooze a bit more. On the right edge are two rectangular buttons. The one nearest the front requires a press, and toggles between Alarm On and Alarm Off modes. The other requires a sliding motion and is used to increase or decrease volume. On the left edge is a single rectangular button. This is the "key lock" button, and also requires a sliding motion.

The Moshi Travel Alarm Clock responds to voice commands. Commands include Time, Set Time, Alarm, Set Alarm, Alarm Sound, and Temperature. When the IVR button is pressed, the unit says, in a pleasant female voice, "Command please." If held at arm's length, the clock responds well to any of the above commands, responding in the same female voice with the desired information. It responds in complete sentences, e.g.: "The temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit."

The front side of the clock is its LCD display, which becomes brighter when the long bar on top is pressed.

When you respond to the command prompt with the words "Alarm Sound," you are given three choices: a single chime, a musical sequence reminiscent of game show ditties, and a 13-note chime sequence that is particularly robust. You select the desired sound by stating "Alarm 1," "Alarm 2," or "Alarm 3."

For approximately $25, this little clock is a snap to learn to use, convenient to carry, and responds reasonably well to all voices. The Moshi Voice-Controlled Travel Alarm Clock is available from a variety of sources, including:
Independent Living Aids
Blind Mice Mart
Moshi Lifestyle
Or Bed Bath and Beyond

New Low Vision Product from Dancing Dots

At ATIA, Orlando, Dancing Dots introduced its new product The Lime Lighter Low Vision Music-Reading Device for people with low vision.

The Lime Lighter:

  • Displays magnified print music notation.
  • Magnifies music from 1.25 up to 10 times.
  • Allows you to mark up your music on the screen with a stylus and lets you save it for later.
  • Allows you to listen to music playback in tempo.
  • Allows you to optionally use third-party magnification software to read text in program menus and dialogs.

For more information call Dancing Dots at 610-783-6692 (Press option 1 for Sales) or visit www.dancingdots.com/limelighter

Mark Your Calendar: Combined Call for Papers: February 15 - May 17, 2010

Calling all speakers for the new COMBINED Call for Papers for ATIA 2010 Chicago
(October 27-30, 2010) and ATIA 2011 Orlando (January 26-29, 2011).

ATIA is holding a combined Call for Papers for two conferences for an extended period of three months to enable speakers to submit abstracts for one OR both conferences.

How will it work? Speakers will submit abstracts online and select if they are submitting for one of three choices:
- ATIA 2010 Chicago
- ATIA 2011 Orlando
- BOTH ATIA 2010 Chicago and ATIA 2011 Orlando

Speakers receive discounted registration to the conference. Please contact education@atia.org with questions.

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Copyright © 2010 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind.

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