Feeds

Bluetoothing androids to shout at blind people

Just follow the websigns

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

American researchers have developed a Bluetooth-based system which would allow blind people to hear information about their immediate surroundings in the same way that others read posters, signs or notices.

The "Talking Points" system was developed at the University of Michigan, and will be presented at international conferences in the UK and Korea next week.

"Talking Points can be viewed as a first step in the direction of an audio virtual reality designed for people with blindness and very useful to the sighted community as well," according to James Knox of the U Mich electrical engineering and computer science department.

The idea is that simple bluetooth beacons, probably in "plugtop" format, could be sold for less than $20. The beacon would have a unique serial number, which would be the only information it transmitted.

The purchaser of a beacon would then be able to log into a website and input information referenced to the beacon number. This could be an advert for a business, a safety warning, a street or building name - anything. Municipal authorities, transit operators and so on could use the devices in large numbers. This being the modern day, there would probably also be user-generated content too.

Talking Points users would need a bluetooth device which also had wireless internet - a smartphone, UMPC, mini-laptop or a specialised Talking Points receiver. The device would be connected to an earpiece, either bluetooth or wired. When the device software detected a Talking Points beacon, it would look up the information on the internet and play it back through the earpiece. You'd be able to choose which kinds of beacon your system would respond to, and whether or not you wanted the user-generated comments as well as the official tags.

Early versions of Talking Points used RFID technology, but recently grad-student developers pushed for a shift to Bluetooth devices on the grounds that "everyone has them" and "RFID readers cost twice as much as my car" (according to this pdf presentation).

For now, the prototype system is using a dedicated receiver box for demonstrations. However the Talking Points team hope soon to put it onto other platforms - in particular Google's Android handset OS.

They believe that Talking Points has the edge over point-of-interest databases as used with GPS or other location-based tech. Bluetooth chips are more widespread than GPS ones, and use less power too - while location using cell masts is very imprecise. However the Talking Points crowd are looking to incorporate location-based functions in future. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.