This looks great for people who struggle to identify visual buttons.
London has a new app to add to the list of apps for locating accessible facilities. Its called Ldn Access.
Other apps that cover this kind of information include the wider Action for Access campaign and app from Leonard Chesire, more specialist apps like the London Toilet Map, and Parking mobility an interesting combination of disabled parking info, and a mechanism for violation reporting (if your area adopts it – there is no information on the website that I could see listing areas that have).
Interesting announcement at Google IO last month about support for usb devices connecting to Android phones and tablets (so you could plug a game device in to control it), and an open way of developing custom devices to plug in called the Android Open Accessory Development Kit based on the open source Arduino platform.
Rather than making people sign non-disclosure agreements to find out the hardware details (like another well known manufacture of tablet and phone devices), and making them pay large licensing fees, and submit devices for approval they are basing the initial development kit on a popular, well used open source project that anyone is free to make. A number of low volume manufacturers are making boards to use already.
There were already a ways to connect devices to Android devices, but none were officially sanctioned, so could be blocked or changed at any time. Having an open route that is officially supported is great. On the day of the announcement they made all the details available, including the design files you need to make your own (one of the requirements that makes hardware open source)
While there are some quirks in the way that they are doing this is an exciting development and could lead to a lot of interesting devices and prototypes.
I have got as far as getting the software example that talks to the board onto an Android tablet – as my tablet didn’t have the latest version of Android on it I needed to update it. As it is open source there were versions online i could try (legally).
Very technical post – no video to watch, sorry. The BBC has published a white paper about universal remote controls. Its explained in more detail here, with a good high level discussion of why they are doing it. Briefly they are looking at it in much broader terms than the current range of replace your infra – red tv remote with a smart phone apps that are already out there. They have designed something that they hope can be adopted by many groups and used as a platform agnostic standard to drive forward development of this area (kind of like WWW for tv set top boxes and remotes). It has great potential for trying out different accessibility options with people, and developing bespoke solutions for people to control their media viewing. A free open source example implementation is promised for the near future for people to start to play with – can’t wait.
You can get the white paper here.
There are some great resources online to learn about making better video. The stuff at vimeos videoschool is good. There is a small amount of content generated by vimeo themselves, and then themed content submitted by members. This is of variable quality, but covers a very wide range, so you can find information about particualr areas like lighting and sound if that is what you need.
I also like the material produced by the Participatory Culture Foundation, make internet tv. They are keen to ensure everyone participates in media production for the web. As well as the tutorial material they produce Miro, a great video player that enables you to make playlists of video (similar to music in iTunes, but not tied to Apple). It uses VLC as the engine so it plays lots of different formats.
Impressive iPhone app translates text on signs in real time. It would be a small step to make the phone speak what it has seen, as it has already identified what the text is – available in the app store now.
Google has stuff doing similar things, and Johnny Chung Lee has just moved to Google after working on the Kinect at Microsoft so would expect them to start doing lots more in that kind of field. As a student before his time at Microsoft Johnny produced some of the inspiring demos of hacking the Wii remote.
We have used game controllers a lot with computers to get cheap and more accessible ways of controlling the computer. The Wii controller was the big news three years ago and has been used by many people to try out new ways of doing things on a computer (its just a bluetooth device to the computer). Within a few weeks of it coming out people round the world produced software that could read the information that it produced, enabling it to be used for lots of different things.
With Christmas coming the big companies are wheeling out their new offerings. Playstation brought out the PS3Move.
This uses camera tracking with the PS3 eye (one of the best cheap webcams available for camera tracking) to follow the colour changing blob on the end of it, as well as having sensors inside it. It is better than the Wii for tracking orientation and acceleration since it has a compass and gyros, but is similar in what it does. As it just an incremental change so has not made a big splash, but there is group working on getting it working on a pc.
The big news was the release of the Microsoft Kinect. While being more expensive than the other (£130, compared to £30), it is a different beast entirely. As well as tracking motion it is able to work out the distance that things are away from it, down to quite small detail.
This sophisticated tracking means that people dont have to carry a controller, just do the right movements for the game to progress. It works better for some kind of games than others, and can fail spectacularly at times (kicking one of the players off from a two player game for example), just search youtube for Kinect fail for some examples.
Interesting that John Lee Chung (in the top video of Wii whiteboard) got a job working on Kinect when he left college – poacher turned gamekeeper.
Now of course everyone is trying to hack the Kinect to work with computers. Adafruit set up a bounty for the first open source drivers that would work with it. It was claimed within 48 hours, and now the internet is filling up with early examples of getting the info out of it.
Karl Kenner who produces Glovepie for using game controllers on PCs will have both controllers working on Windows as soon as he can, so interesting new possibilities opening up for next year.