Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Voice Actions on Android 2.2

Google's Android 2.2 (and above) comes with an amazing feature that lets users perform various actions on their phone by just using voice. This feature is aptly called Voice Actions, and requires minimal use of the phone keyboard/ touch screen. The user needs to install the Voice Search app featuring Voice Actions on their phone which can be easily done by going here and clicking on the "Send to Phone" button. Clicking the button sends a text message to the user's phone with a link to the app.

Voice Actions can be a blessing for people who have underdeveloped motor skills and/or low vision.

Watch this fantastic video that shows this feature in action. I tried Voice Actions on my phone as well, and I have to say that I was very impressed.

To see a list of all the actions that can be performed using Voice Actions, please go here.

Have you or anyone you know used Voice Action? Please feel free to share your story in the comments below.

Note: Requires at least Android 2.2 (Froyo).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wheelchair Gym

The wheelchair gym is a portable exercise machine that can be used by seniors and people with spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, back problems, cerebral palsy, and amputees to perform upper body exercise.

The equipment is mainly made up of a frame, arms, hand grips, and cylinders. The user can perform various upper body exercises by moving/rotating the arms in different angles. There is a resistance control knob that can set 8 levels of resistance.  Turning the knob clockwise increases resistance and counter clockwise decreases it.

The arms are attached to hydraulic cylinders which adjust the resistance to match the pressure being applied. If at any point in time the user finds it difficult to apply the required pressure,  the resistance is automatically reduced. The user can then either complete the stroke with less pressure or take their hands off the arms so that they come back to a vertical position. Users of all fitness levels can use this equipment to perform upper body exercises.
  • The arms can rotate 90 degrees and can be locked at a certain angle.
  • The height of the arms can be increased up to 8 inches in 1 inch increments.
  • They can be moved up and down.
  • The grips rotate.
Click here to see the different exercises that can be done using the wheelchair gym.

Cost of the wheelchair gym ranges from $3,750 (18" seat) to $4,550 (30" seat). Prices for all variants of the wheelchair gym are mentioned in their order form. Volume discounts are available.

Product website: http://www.lotechusa.com/index.php

Hit the source link to read more about the wheelchair gym and its benefits.

Source: disabled-world  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Accessible Gaming Center/ Website For People With Disabilities [Video]

The good folks over at SpecialEffect recently opened a fully accessible gaming center for people with disabilities in Witney, Oxfordshire in the UK. The gaming center would allow gamers with disabilities to experience the latest and the greatest in assistive technology especially designed for them. The center also has a GamesLab where equipment and games are tested for accessibility.

SpecialEffect has always been involved in making games accessible to gamers. They have been loaning equipment and specialized game technology to gamers with disabilities that have been created/ modified to suit their needs, allowing them to continue to enjoy video games. For example, gamers with cerebral palsy can use eye controllers to control movement in the video game just by using eye movement/ blinking. Watch the video for a demo:

SpecialEffect has also created a website especially for gamers with disabilities at http://www.gamebase.info to reach a wider audience. The website consists of groups and forums that allow SpecialEffects and users to share information, knowledge and experiences about accessible games, devices, gaming platforms, and technologies.

Their video collection is very impressive, with more than 45 videos that show SpecialEffect's equipment and technology in use.

Source: SpecialEffect, Reghardware via Engadget

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Elevator With Voice Recognition And Wheelchair Detection

Japan's Mitsubishi Electric has made elevator rides for people with disabilities a lot more easier by adding two important features to its elevator user interface.

The new system adds voice recognition so that blind users could speak out the floor number they need to go to, and  the elevator makes an announcement when it reaches its destination.

The system also has a sensor outside the elevator that detects wheelchairs (needs to be within 30 cm from the sensor). Once a wheel chair is detected, voice recognition is automatically activated (which also means that the rider would neither have to face the problem of reaching high buttons nor would they have to ask someone else for assistance).

See image for sensor location.

As of now, this elevator system is available only in Japan.

Source: Akihabara News via Engadget

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Money Reader iOS App For Blind And Visually Impaired (Video)

Looktel's Money Reader is a revolutionary augmented reality app for the iPhone, iPod Touch (with camera) and iPad (with camera) for the visually impaired that counts US dollar bills ($1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills). As soon as the app detects the bills, it starts counting. There is no need to place the bills in front of the phone camera in a certain orientation. The app detects the bill artwork and immediately recognizes the denomination.

Money Reader does not require an internet connection which makes it usable everywhere. This app is available for $1.99 (app description here).

A quick note about iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch fourth generation (from Money Reader's description on iTunes):

"Note: If you are using an iPhone 3GS or 4th Generation iPod, LookTel Money Reader requires an environment with plenty of light."

Check out the video for a very impressive demo!

Source: Looktel via Engadget

Monday, March 7, 2011

Captioning/ Subtitles On Netflix

There is good news for people with hearing impairment! The popular video streaming website Netflix has added subtitles (in English) to 30% of its content available for streaming, and the company's target is to add subtitles to 80% of its online content by the end of this year.

Subtitles are supported on PCs and Macs, as well as most of the devices that stream Netflix to TVs, like Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, Boxee Box and Google TV. XBox 360 and Roku player are expected to support subtitles later this year.

Turning on subtitles on Netflix is extremely easy. Any movie or TV show that has subtitles shows a "Subtitles" button on the player. Clicking on the button shows the languages subtitles are available in. Selecting a language would turn on the subtitles. The same button can be used to turn off subtitles.

The devices that stream Netflix content have the "Audio and Subtitles" option.

Here is the list of all the content that has subtitles now. TV shows like Dexter, Lost, The 70s Show, Weeds, Scrubs and movies like District 9, Prince of Persia, Free Willy, and many animated movies have subtitles now.

Source: Netflix Blog