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Application for blind : can it be done with WP7 ?

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  • User profile image
    FredWorms

    Hello dear experts : I made an application on behalf of blind persons for the PC. Demo (very provisional) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eb4culvr-bE . It would be fine to have a smartphone version. I tried Android and iPhone but I'm not too positive. 

    Question : is this coffeehouse the right place to discuss whether an application can be made at all for the Windows Phone 7 platform?

  • User profile image
    ZippyV

    I don't see how blind people would use any smartphone if it has a smooth surface. A mouse is just as useless.

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    , ZippyV wrote

    I don't see how blind people would use any smartphone if it has a smooth surface. A mouse is just as useless.

    +1. How do the users interact with the PC application now?

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Speech?  My old school HTC Touch still has a slide out keypad, too.

    508 compliance on a desktop app usually means text-to-speech to give feedback at to where the cursor exists.  Maybe the phone can do that, too.?

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    , ZippyV wrote

    I don't see how blind people would use any smartphone if it has a smooth surface. A mouse is just as useless.

    I know two guys (good friends of mine, actually, who I met through the same friends) who were both blind from birth, and they both use computers and smartphones incredibly well.  They are definitely power users in every way, and they use their smartphones way more often and with more skill than I do.  Their phones talk very, very fast (unintelligible to me for the most part), reading off the menus and whatever is being navigated to.  It's actually quite amazing.  For PCs, they use screen reading software that is quite advanced.

  • User profile image
    FredWorms

    Thanks;

    No problems for blind persons to my opinion with the smooth surface. Maybe some training is necessary using a paper overlay or markers at the screen borders.

    Pc version uses (3 * 4) 12 keys of a numeric pad. The number of keys / buttons can be reduced to (2 * 3) when multi-tap is applied.

    I hate TTS. EDOS documents are based on human voice audio (e.g. mp3) recordings. Docs can be listened to sentence by sentence. For dual-language books also the translation can be heard. Also the spelling of words can be invoked.

    I hope to receive answers to my question. I can be more specific about potential problem points, I encountered when trying to program an iPhone version. 

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    I can see nothing in the demo that couldn't be done on WP7, assuming all the audio is stored as MP3. Although WP7 doesn't currently have built-in database functionality (comming in the Mango update in the Autumn), there are various open-source database implementations out there if you search.

    You might want to investigate the XNA framework for the audio -- although be warned that I tried to work with that last weekend and couldn't get it to work on a physical device! I must have missed something, but it shows it's not as straightforward as it should be.

    The UI part would be simple to do on WP7 using Silverlight.  The Silverlight Toolkit over on Codeplex has a GestureListener class that makes it very easy to respond to touch commands like tap, double-tap and hold (took me about 30 minutes to go from downloading the toolkit to having gesture recognition in my app).

    Good luck and let us know how it's going.

    Herbie

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    , Richard.Hein wrote

    *snip*

    I know two guys (good friends of mine, actually, who I met through the same friends) who were both blind from birth, and they both use computers and smartphones incredibly well.  They are definitely power users in every way, and they use their smartphones way more often and with more skill than I do.  Their phones talk very, very fast (unintelligible to me for the most part), reading off the menus and whatever is being navigated to.  It's actually quite amazing.  For PCs, they use screen reading software that is quite advanced.

    It's quite impressive how fast the TTS can play and still be understood to someone who's skilled at it.  The big negative about TTS in general (and JAWS in specific) is how badly it screws up your system when you aren't vision impaired.

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    @FredWorms: So the problem is that any buttons on the screen wouldn't have physical borders that the blind user could feel? Maybe an approach similar to this one: http://www.cleverlike.com/

  • User profile image
    FredWorms

    Thanks; the user interface will not be a problem. Problem is : I need to play "clips" of audio files, one clip per sentence of a talking document. An EDOS doc (http://talkingdocs.org) contains a pointer file. In EDOS2011 for MS-Windows (VB2010 / WPF) I set the play-position of a mediaplayer control, then use a timer to determine when the clip has finished. I read (Petzold) : playposition = get-only for the Zune-based Windows phone. Hence my doubt whether the application can be realisé at all.

    Other problem points :

    - Storing / logistics for collections of documents (each document has an audio file and a pointer file per chapter. First step is a one document / one chapter prototype, this problem can be tackled later.

    - Compatibility of audio files. I build a prototype for iPhone. Unpleasant surprise : a clip of an mp3 audio file from x to y is identical on hundreds of PC's (XP, Vista, W7) but shifted (inaccuracy of up to a few seconds) on iOS. I converted to another format : same problem. I did not try every format available (ogg, .....). I wonder whether similar problems will exist for Windows Phone.

    I'll finish my effort to produce English prose with a personal opinion : I think it's a shame that thousands of gifted programmers worldwide are wasting their time on useless games, (enabling millions of persons to waste their time), while there are no decent cheap solutions for blind persons : prehistoric braille, antique far too expensive daisy readers, screenreaders and all kind of extravagant solutions only suitable for a financial and intellectual elite.

     

  • User profile image
    kettch

    @FredWorms:Have you looked at the XNA components? Those might provide a higher level of accuracy. You might have to wait for the new XNA and Silverlight mashability that is coming in Mango to get the results that you need.

    In response to your comment, I think part of the problem is that most developers don't know about these sorts of needs. As with many disabilities, we are only familiar with what is around us. In my case, I simply don't have anybody in my life with any kind of disability that isn't age related. As a developer, I rely very heavily on working closely with my customers to design personalized solutions, and this becomes difficult if there isn't anybody around to work with. Most people probably don't even know how proficient blind people can be on a computer, let alone a smartphone.

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