GTT Toronto Summary Notes, Seeing AI, TapTapSee, Be My Eyes and Aira, January 17, 2019

Summary Notes

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

January 17, 2019

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with the CNIB Foundation

 

The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Toronto Group was held on Thursday, January 17 at the CNIB Community Hub.

 

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

Theme: Seeing AI, TapTapSee, BeMyEyes and Aira

 

GTT Toronto Meeting Summary Notes can be found at this link:

 

Ian White (Facilatator, GTT)

Chelsy Moller Presenter, Balance For Blind Adults

 

Ian opened the meeting. Chelsy Moller will be presenting on recognition aps.

 

General Discussion:

  • We began with a general discussion. OrCam will be presenting at the White Cane Expo. AIRA will not. We’re still in negotiation to see if they will open up the event as a free AIRA event space. Apple will also not be there. They make it a corporate policy not to present at generalized disability events.
  • Ian raised the issue of getting a media error 7 when he’s recording on his Victor Stream. Is there a list of errors somewhere? Jason answered that perhaps it’s a corrupted SD card. A member said that there’s a list of errors in an appendix to the manual, which can be accessed by holding down the 1 key.
  • Michael asked if there’s a way to add personal notes in BlindSquare, such as, 25 steps. One recommendation was a document that you could access through the cloud. Another recommendation was to mark a “point of interest” in BlindSquare. When you do this, you can name it, so you could call it, Shoppers 25, to indicate 25 steps. Another recommendation was to make notes using the iPhone notes ap. Another recommendation was to set up geo-dependent iPhone reminders. Within a radius of the spot you want, your phone would just tell you whatever information you put in.
  • A member raised the problem of using Windows 10 and Jaws, trying to synchronize contacts email with Apple, and having duplicate folders in his Outlook email. Microsoft exchange might help.
  • Jason told the group that he has an Instant Pot smart available for sale. This is a pressure cooker that works with the iPhone, and it’s no longer available as an iPhone connectable device. He’s thinking $100, talk to him privately if interested.
  • Then he described a new keyboard he got. It’s a Bluetooth called REVO2, which he received as a demo unit. It’s got 24 keys. You can type on your phone with it, or control your phone with it. Its most useful use is when you need to key in numbers after having made a call, such as keying in bank passwords etc. Alphabetic entry works the way old cell phones did, press 2 twice for B. It has actual physical buttons. It can control every aspect of VoiceOver. You can also route your phone audio to it, so you’re essentially using it as a phone. It’s about $300. It can be paired to iPhone and Android. Here’s a link to the David Woodbridge podcast demonstrating the Rivo Keyboard:
  • A member asked if Phone it Forward is up and running. This is a program in which CNIB takes old phones, refurbishes them, then redistributes them to CNIB clients. Phone It Forward information can be found at this link.

 

Seeing AI, TapTapSee, Be My Eyes, and AIRA Presentation:

Ian introduced Chelsie, who is an Adaptive Technology Trainer, and Engagement Specialist. She’s here tonight to talk about recognition aps.

We’re going to focus on 4 aps, Seeing AI, TapTapSee, Be My Eyes, and AIRA.

  • Seeing AI is an ap that allows the user to do a variety of visual tasks, scene description, text recognition, vague descriptions of people, light levels, currency recognition, and colour preview. Each of these functions is called a channel. As a side note, Chelsie said that her iPhone10 uses facial recognition as your password. A store employee told her it wouldn’t work because it needs to see your retina, but this isn’t true; it works from facial contours.

Chelsie opened the ap. There’s a menu, quick help, then channel chooser. To get from channel to channel, flick up. She did a demonstration of short text with a book. It’s helpful for reading labels and packaging. Try to keep the camera about a foot above the text, and centred. This requires some trial and error. The document channel takes a picture of the text. It’s better for scanning a larger surface. Short text is also very useful for your computer screen if your voice software is unresponsive. Short text will not recognize columns, but document mode usually will. The product channel is for recognizing bar codes. This is a bit challenging because you have to find the bar code first. Jason said that it’s possible to learn where the codes typically appear, near the label seem on a can, or on the bottom edge of a cereal box. The person channel tells you when the face is in focus, then you take a picture. You get a response that gives age, gender, physical features, and expression. Chelsie demonstrated these, as well as currency identifier. It’s very quick. The scene preview also takes a picture, and gives you a very general description. The colour identification channel is also very quick. There’s also a hand writing channel, that has mixed results. The light detector uses a series of ascending and descending tones. Beside the obvious use of detecting your house lights, it’s also useful in diagnosing electronics. If you turn all other lights off, you can use it to see if an indicator light on a device is on.

Seeing AI is free. It’s made by Microsoft, who has many other ways of generating revenue.

  • TapTapSee is a very good ap for colour identification. This is always a tricky thing, because colour is often subjective, and is affected by light levels. TapTapSee takes a picture, and gives a general description including colour. For more accurate colour description, Be My Eyes and AIRA are better. TapTapSee is free.
  • Be My Eyes is a service in which a blind person contacts volunteers who help with quick identification or short tasks. Because they’re volunteers, the quality of help varies. You may have to wait for a volunteer. There’s a specialized help button. You can use Be My Eyes to call the disability help desk. This is useful if you need technical help from Microsoft, and they need to see your screen. This ap is also free.
  • AIRA is a paid service. Chelsie has been using it for a month. She’s very happy with it. It connects a blind user with a trained, sighted agent. This could be anything from “what is this product?” “I need to find this address,” I need to navigate through a hospital or airport. When you set up your profile, you can specify how much information you want in a given situation, and how you like to receive directions. They can access your location via GPS, in order to help navigate. They will not say things like “it’s safe to cross,” but they will say things like, “You have a walk signal with 10 seconds to go.” They’re seeing through either your phone camera, or through a camera mounted on glasses you can ware.

They have 3 plans, introductory, 30 minutes. You cannot buy more minutes in a month on this plan. You can upgrade though. The standard plan is 120 minutes at $100, or the $125 plan, that gives you 100 minutes plus the glasses. The advantage of this is that you can be hands-free when travelling. The glasses have a cord connecting them to an Android phone that has been dedicated to the AIRA function. Otherwise, you simply use your own phone with its built-in camera. This happens via an ap that you install.

The question was raised about whether the glasses could be Bluetooth, but the feedback was that there’s too much data being transmitted for Bluetooth to work.

On the personal phone ap, you open the ap and tap on the “call” button. With the glasses, there’s a dedicated button to press to initiate the call.

Chelsie spoke about how powerfully liberating it is to have this kind of independence and information. You can, read her blog post about her experience here

The third plan is 300 minutes and $190. All these prices are U.S.

Jason added that, in the U.S. many stores are becoming Sight Access Locations. This means that if you already have an AIRA subscription, use at these locations won’t count against your minutes. The stores pay AIRA for this. This will likely begin to roll out in Canada. Many airports are also Sight Access Locations. You can’t get assigned agents, but you may get the same agent more than once. If you lose your connection, the agent will be on hold for about 90 seconds so that you can get the same agent again if you call back immediately. For head phones, you can use ear buds or Aftershocks.

 

Upcoming Meetings:

  • Next Meeting: Thursday, February 21 at 6pm
  • Location: CNIB Community Hub space at 1525 Yonge Street, just 1 block north of St Clair on the east side of Yonge, just south of Heath.
  • Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 6pm.

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.GTTProgram.Blog/

There is a form at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.

 

 

 

GTT Victoria Summary Notes, BrailleMe, Be My Eyes and Aira, October 3, 2018

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

 

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with

Greater Victoria Public Library

 

Summary Notes

Wednesday October 3, 2018

 

The meeting was called to order at 1:00 pm by Tom Dekker.

 

Attendance, there were 15 individuals in Attendance.

 

Tom Decker welcomed everyone to the meeting and opened the session with a presentation and demonstration of a new low-cost Braille display. The item is called BrailleMe and is produced by Innovision Tech

www.innovisiontech.co/brailleme/

Tom is quite impressed with the item, especially in relation to what it can do based on the very attractive price point. The unit sells for around $575 (USD). the item can produce .BRF and .TXT files, and can read from an SD Card, but holds no internal memory. Tom went around the room with the item and let everyone have a look/test,

 

Other low-end Braille products were discussed including the Orbit, however their seams to be some serious issues with that product and people not having much luck with it, even if they are able to get their hands on one.

 

During the second half, Albert Ruel presented a demo of both the Be My Eyes App

www.bemyeyes.com

and the Aira service

www.aira.io

 

Albert is a subscriber to the Aira service and wanted people to see the differences while highlighting the unique services offered by both apps.

 

First, he demonstrated BeMyEyes. it uses the camera on your phone. You connect via the app, cost is free, and you are connected to a volunteer who will assist you with whatever vision challenge you present. Today Albert spoke to a volunteer (randomly selected by the app) in Calgary. Albert asked her to read several cards he held in front of the camera, she did so with great ease and accuracy.

 

Then albert did the same test utilizing the Aira service. Although a cell phone camera can be used, Albert used the provided Austria glasses with an attached camera that one gets when subscribing to the service. Lining up the cards was a bit more of a challenge using the glasses due to a bit of a field of vision limitation. Albert also asked the Aira Agent to provide a brief description of the clothing being worn by some of the people sitting across the room, as well as to have some of the room described.  Interestingly enough, there is a fire extinguisher hanging on the wall across from where Albert was sitting, a fact not previously known by the blind people who attend GTT meetings monthly.  Aira is a “user pay” service and there are four plans available with varying prices based on the number of minutes you wish to purchase. They also have some referral promotions if people sign up from a referral from an existing user, who is referred to as an Explorer.

 

In closing a brief discussion was held about both the province-wide October 20, 2018 civic election, and the provincial referendum on Proportional Representation that will conclude on November 19, 2018. Albert said that CNIB will be contacting clients with particulars about the braille information and templates that can be requested for the latter, seeing as it is a mail in ballot. For accessibility features available for the Civic Election, please check with your City or region to ask about their what they’ve put in place for blind and partially sighted voters.

 

Albert also provided some sense of the poor intercity bus service available on Vancouver Island, particularly for communities North of Nanaimo.  If one is travelling beyond Nanaimo the last intercity bus leaving Victoria is at 2:55 PM.  Also, the first bus heading for Victoria leaves Parksville at 9:15 AM and doesn’t arrive in Victoria until after 1:00 PM if riding with Tofino Bus, and the IslandLink Express Bus leaves Parksville at 9:40 AM and arrives in Victoria at about 12:30 PM.  Sadly, if intercity bus riders have occasion to visit Victoria from Up Island communities their work/social day will last no more than 2- and one-half hours in total.

 

Finally, a topic for an upcoming meeting was discussed, that being “how do we feel about asking for visual help and how might technology play a role in how we answer that in a changing world.  How will we maintain our independence when accessing information in our home activities, work tasks and during our recreational pursuits?

 

The next meeting will be held on November 7, 2018, and it will have us receiving a presentation from Stephen Ricci from Frontier Computing in Toronto.  They are one of the largest assistive technology resellers in Canada, and while Stephen is in Victoria attending the Foundation Fighting Blindness Vision Quest the previous day he is pleased to stay one additional day to attend the GTT Victoria meeting.

 

Meeting was adjourned at 3pm

Next meeting, Wednesday November 7th, Same bat time, same bat channel. Happy Halloween everyone!

 

Meeting notes submitted by Corry Stuive

 

GTT Victoria Overview

  • GTT Victoria is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Victoria promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll-free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.gttprogram.wordpress.com/

There is a Follow link at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.

 

National GTTSupport Email distribution List

CCB sponsors a GTT email support list to provide help and support with technology for blind and low vision Canadians.  To subscribe to the email list, send an empty email to:

GTTsupport+subscribe@groups.io

 

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