Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

3-D Virtual Maps For the Blind

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the see-me-feel-me dept.

Graphics 50

Roland Piquepaille writes to let us know about research into producing palpable maps for the blind. Scientific American has the story of Greek researchers who produce 3D "haptic" maps that "use force fields to represent walls and roads so the visually impaired can better understand the layout of buildings and cities." Two separate systems produce haptic output from standard video and from 2D maps. The systems have been tested on a small number of users. Currently the devices that interpret the "force fields" for sight-impaired users are not portable, and so the systems are most appropriate for doing research before, e.g., visiting a new city.

cancel ×

50 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Roland (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654001)

Nobody likes that Roland...

2nd post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654035)

Where is everybody?

Better solution. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654049)

Why don't they just pray to have their eyesight returned? Science is for heathen pussies, remember.

Seriously (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654639)

If I was blind (or deaf) I would do the world a favor and just kill myself. We have to go out of our way and do special things to accommodate a small minority of people. In return, these people use a disproportionate amount of our resources without being able to contribute as much back as a normal person. It's sad, but it's the truth. Just like all those starving people in Africa. What is the point of sending food? They are just going to eat it today and be hungry again tomorrow. If we are to send them anything, I say we send them guns and farming supplies. At least that way they could become self-sufficient and keep the militias off their backs. And if those fucking nigger bitches could keep from popping out a baby every other day there wouldn't be so fucking many mouths to feed.

I'm not a cold bastard, though. Normal people who get injured could stay (provided they have done something useful with their life), but babies born with handicaps would have to go. Also, 70 or 75 would be the cut-off point. If I had arthritis and Alzheimer's I would want someone to put me out of my misery, too. While we're at it, let's just go ahead and get rid of blacks and hispanics. Also asians and arabs. And those punjabs. If it's black, throw it back. If it's brown, flush it down. If it's yellow, um ... kill it (what the fuck rhymes with yellow?). I am not a white supremacist; I am an everything-else inferiorist.

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18659035)

spoken like a white guy with a two inch peter.

Re:Seriously (1)

krowe (LinuxZealot) (1055996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18664731)

I was waiting for someone with more intelligence than I to make a rebuttal to the previous post (I guess they were all to smart too). I suggest that you should have done the same. I disagree with just about everything he said (the only exception being the bit about sending farming supplies to starving countries instead of food (if the land can't be farmed it is not a place people should be living)) but a response like that tends to enforce some of his other points. You could have responded in a hundred intelligent ways but instead you decide to flame his unit. You had a chance to enlighten this guy and others who may think the same way but instead you have only reinforced his way of thinking by responding with a similarly offensive generalization. -1 for humanity; good job.

wonderful (4, Insightful)

symes (835608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654055)

Advances in technology can have a very important and positive impact on the lives of the visually impaired. Take, for example, the recent advent of home delivery which has caught on in the UK. The blind can now phone up supermarkets and have groceries delivered to their door - they no longer need the services of sighted folks. Email, as well, means that they have another means of communicating. There are readers which can take text and convert it to either voice or braille - again, they do not require sighted folks input and can manage personal affairs with some privacy. All this is great and it is wonderful to see the tech world take greater interest in helping the visually impaired. But, there are two problems. First, cost. Browse a few sights which sell aids for the blind and you'll see that the prices are extortionate - well beyond the means of most blind people.

But the most important issue, and the one that makes this idea founder, is that mostly it's sighted folks implementing their ideas on what would make the world a better place for the blind. No blind person would likely find themselves wandering an unknown city without some assistance from either a guidedog or sighted assistant. Why? It's not the walls and what not that are the problem... its the idiots who park their cars on pavements, the morons who let their dogs foul the pavements, it's town planners who let trees grow over pavements putting overhanging branches in the way. And so on, and so on. Disrespect is one of the biggest barriers and something that cannot be easily resoved with 'force-fields'.

Sorry to rant, it's a nice idea...

taggers: "boycottroland" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654163)

use the tag "boycottroland" and let the slashdot editors know that Roland has no place with his blogspam on slashdot, and he needs to take his bogspam to sites devoted to that purpose, e.g. digg.com

Re:taggers: "boycottroland" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654439)

I'm thinking 'steel needles in eyes' and Roland in the same thought...

Re:wonderful (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654245)

its the idiots who park their cars on pavements, the morons who let their dogs foul the pavements, it's town planners who let trees grow over pavements putting overhanging branches in the way

Sorry to rant, it's a nice idea...

Thats OK. You have just listed the things which piss me off more than practically anything else. I am not blind but the quality of my environment is important to me. Its a shame we have to invoke the needs of disabled people to get attention paid to things like this.

A good example was a court case in my city about 10 years ago. Home owners in a wealthy area had let their hedges grow to the point where you couldnt see (let alone walk on) the foot path any more. Council told home owners to cut their trees. Home owners told the Council to do without the foot path or build a new one. They lost the case on the strength of the needs of blind people, despite the fact that everybody needs the foot path to walk on.

Re:wonderful (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654259)

Extortionate? How big do you think the blind market is? Do you expect people to invest significant R&D and then sell solutions at a loss for the good of humanity?

The cost of most attempted solutions to assist with blind living may be high, but I doubt that has nearly as much to do with extortion as it does with simply supply and demand.

I also fail to see how one can call poor planning a form of "disrespect". Or do you think that the city planners are twisting the tips of their upturned moustaches while gleefully giggling over the pending city development plans "Have a tree in the middle of your sidewalk, blind man! Navigate THAT! Tee hee hee hee!"

Re:wonderful (5, Informative)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654319)

While your points are all true, as a scientist it was the description of "force-fields" in the article that really pissed me off. So we map points in the city into "force-fields", and then we "simulate" the "force-fields" with haptic input. So.... in effect there are no force-fields - only geometry which the haptic device then interacts with. Whoever wrote this article is a first class dickwad.

On the subject of visible assumptions, we have a blind guy doing some research into haptic interfaces as part of his PhD. Every so often the department gets the chance to try one of his experiments and the results are odd to say the least. As someone with sight I would assume that most information comes from shape and size, apparently these are secondary cues to the user of a haptic interface. I shouldn't really go into too many details as I'm not sure what he's published and what he hasn't.

How is it not a force field? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18658529)

Force Field: from a macroscopic perspective, the means by which a force communicates its influence; described by a collection of numbers at each point in space that reflect the strength and direction of the force at that point. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox- a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=rlL&defl=en&q= define:force+field&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct= title [google.com]

Re:How is it not a force field? (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18661543)

Well done you. You quoted PBS nova, surely a great scientific publication and source of fact. And because you believe in the power of citation so much, you did so as AC. But lets look at your quote in more detail shall we:

Force Field: from a macroscopic perspective, the means by which a force communicates its influence; described by a collection of numbers at each point in space that reflect the strength and direction of the force at that point

This does not mean that any collection of numbers that describes force in a volume is a force-field, but rather that it can describe one. Much as a picture on my monitor can describe a Ferrari, but is rather hard to drive.

Re:How is it not a force field? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18666217)

There's also the fact that the researcher, in his paper, describes it many times as a force field. As did scientists writing related papers. But that's probably not good enough for you either.

Re:How is it not a force field? (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18667953)

No it definitely isn't good enough. It's the researcher calling it a forcefield that annoyed me in the first place, as strangely enough - it is not a fucking forcefield. But hey, call me picky.

Re:wonderful (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654673)

While I agree with most of your points, one point strikes me as arrogant: It is not "disrespect" to not build the entire city to the needs of a minority, sorry dude.

Re:wonderful (1)

Instine (963303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655781)

Speaking of advancements in tech... Talklets [talklets.com] is one such step forward. Instead of the visually impaired user needing to have a bulky app installed on the computer they with to veiw a site from (in practice often meening they must only use their own computer - not a library, school, friend's etc...), the site itself can allow hot-key and speech enablement. Interest declared...

Re:wonderful (1)

krowe (LinuxZealot) (1055996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18657969)

How is a blind person supposed to be able to use that weblets thing if they can't see the freaking buttons to activate it?

Not to mention that it has all the same flaws as a regular text reader in that it is next to impossible to use on a website made for sighted people. Even your own sales site shows off how crappy it is (e.g. Press the text resize buttons a few times and the whole page goes to shit; or if your mouse moves accidentally the thing starts reading some other part of the page). I realize that currently screen readers are the most used assistive tech for the blind\severely vision impaired to use web pages but this is not new. In fact most operating systems already have support for this sort of technology which makes it hard to define a situation for which this is the superior tool. That is no advance it is simply regurgitated crap.

Speaking of regurgitated crap, the focus of this article is another fine example. Hey guess what we've been hearing about this technology for at least 20 years. It started with VR gaming machines in the early 90s and the challenges haven't changed one bit. Not only is this not portable it is not in the slightest bit practical. Why is it that people keep developing this useless crap. It isn't new tech it is just wasted time trying to re-implement stuff that has already been done for a new purpose. If we can't make it practical for the billions of kids with tons of disposable income there is no way in hell we will be able to for a few blind folks even if the income isn't so disposable. I guess it must be easier to get grant money if the contributors think they are being charitable.

PS: It would be nice if people wouldn't use /. for free ad space like the previous poster has done.

Re:wonderful (1)

Instine (963303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662063)

"How is a blind person supposed to be able to use that weblets thing if they can't see the freaking buttons to activate it?"

You are audibly told to press F9 to switch on hotkeys. Then F12 to here a list of these keys. If you have cookies on you will only here this once (so as not to become annoying. If you were not sighted you would have waiting to here this.

"Not to mention that it has all the same flaws as a regular text reader in that it is next to impossible to use on a website made for sighted people. "

Well actually on the main content in the middle of the front page we say:
"but we believe that there is no substitute for good web design and standards adherence as a fundamental of effective web communication. "

" In fact most operating systems already have support for this sort of technology which makes it hard to define a situation for which this is the superior tool. "

Rightly or wrongly most computers run on Windows, and windows does not offer a practical means to read web content if you are blind (try using narrator with your screen off)

The situation this is useful in, is if I want to use someone else's computer. As someone with need for assistive tech, I can tell you I want to same freedom you have to roam onto another computer to check my mail, or show a friend something, or check the weather, or...

You may find "it hard to define a situation", but I have many I could offer.

just because its useless to you doesn't mean its not VERY important to someone else. Indeed lots of other people. Possibly 10% or even 20% of the population have significant barriers to literacy/reading. That a very significant proportion of a market place. And on a human level, that 20% is just as important as the rest.

I don't wan't to have to ask permission (and usually be denied) to intall something just to let me read a web site, while out the house. I'm sure you wouldn't. Do you see my point? Many users do...

Re:wonderful (1)

krowe (LinuxZealot) (1055996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18667909)

I'm going to respond to your comment in reverse order because I want to get this out of the way first of all. I am not someone who thinks this technology is useless. I am aware of the fact that most of us (if we live long enough) at some point in our life will have vision impairment to some degree. In fact I'm probably more likely than most to have vision problems at some point in my life since I tend to spend most of my time in front of a monitor. I do think that text-to-speech is not the ideal solution. Although it may be an integral part of an ideal solution, it really falls short when it comes to navigating around your PC and it also sounds nothing like real speech.

As for your use case scenario(s), you say you have many but you keep bringing up the same one. I have already explained to you, as if you didn't already know, that there are very few computers which don't have some form of this tech built into them as part of the OS. To keep things simple lets focus on the Windows text reader (although you may have guessed by my username that I generally wouldn't recommend a GUI interface for someone whom has vision problems, IMO GUIs are crutches for the sighted and just get in the way for those who can't see...but thats a whole different argument). Basically, from what I can tell from reading through your website, the primary advantage of textlets over the Windows text reader is that it is capable of reading in a DOM tree and dissecting it in such a way as to allow you to hover over an element and have that element read to the user out of order. Again this is not new technology but simply re-implementation (or possibly just a mash up) of preexisting (and lacking) technology. That was basically my whole point. I'm not saying this script is entirely useless just that it really isn't anything new and offers, at best, a small advantage over other solutions.

It does however seem to have plenty of weaknesses compared to its competition when you compare it heads up to other applications which need to be installed. I guess from a business point of view the no installation angle is what distinguishes you from them. From my point of view, if someone offers a public accessible computer lab (at least in the US) they are required to provide reasonable access for the handicapped which almost always means that they will set aside one or two PCs which have huge monitors and real Text-to-speech software (you know the kind that can read the menu items too). The same holds true for your work computer.

I will concede that it is possible that you may occasionally need some form of text to speech software and not have access to it when using other peoples PCs. In these cases your software could possibly be more helpful than the Windows service, but even in these cases you are ignoring the other settings a PC will need to accommodate these people. Because even while my friends don't lock their PCs down to the point it is not possible to install software-- apparently yours do. I'm curious, do your friends also lock out the control panel? Because if I can't see the pointer how do I know what I'm pointing at. Not to mention that I will also need the other accessibility features turned on and most of my friend do turn those off first thing when they install a fresh copy of Windows. The facts are that someone who is completely blind has little use for the "point and read" feature of your software and someone who has severe vision problems needs allot more than a Text-to-speech reader to even be able to begin to effectively navigate a GUI environment (meaning that some setup is going to be required either way; so why not install a text-to-speech application while you're at it? [rhet]).

A few side notes:

  • I did click too fast through the initial page the first time I went to your site. By cleaning my cookies I was able to hear the instructions. Boy am I glad I could "see" your instructions on how to get that working.
  • Your software appears to work as intended on Linux. Kudos to you for that (even if it was accidental, it shows that you do follow web standards which is all we Linux geeks ask for from a web dev).
  • The instructions for your software seem to hint that the text sizing feature doesn't work in Firefox but I found no problems with it in Fx; although Fx does have a better way to do that built into it which I'm sure you know about.
  • Have you looked into the possibility of allowing web devs to prerecord sections of their site using a real voice? I realize this would have trouble when it comes to dynamic content but I think it would really help make static content allot easier to take.

And one final point: Although I don't have a problem with you adding a link in your sig; I do think it is inappropriate to make posts about this software in a science and tech site because the technology behind it is neither new or innovative (although I guess thats what I'm doing by posting this). I don't think it is appropriate for someone to go through various forums and post links to their software just because the subject of the thread in some remote way relates to the software. To me it is like unsolicited Spam and should be regulated but it's not my site so if the mods don't have a problem with it I will just have to mark it up as a con for this site. Luckily, it isn't a big problem for this particular site but we have probably all seen other forums so clogged with this stuff that they become almost useless for real users. In fact, there are people who make a living (albeit modest) Spamming forums in just the same way.

Re:wonderful (1)

Instine (963303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18672731)

Hmmm... "it really falls short when it comes to navigating around your PC and it also sounds nothing like real speech." JAWS does a fine job of this, Talklets isn't designed to do this (just web content) all OS built in features that I have tested fail to do this... And I think you'll find Talklets voice far more natural sounging than any that come with an operating system.

"That was basically my whole point. I'm not saying this script is entirely useless just that it really isn't anything new and offers, at best, a small advantage over other solutions."

I'm guessing its news to you that 80% of those registered blind in the UK can use a mouse? And that the vast majority of users that have barriers to reading have perfectly good site? This feature is of huge mportance to a lot of people, including illiterate users for example. Those with English as a second language. Those with failing sight... It is a very long way from useless to these people and more...

For further benefits of the system: It has a centralized lexicon dictionary, meaning we can (and do) update pronounciations for our users daily. This is a unique quality of the system, and incredibly inportant in the evolution od TTS. Then there's the fact that I can swap browser and operating system and not have to learn a whole bunch of new hotkeys... Then theres the fact that its the only currently available method of automating the process of self voiceing Flash in FireFox, or Safari (i.e. makeing it accessible). Then there's the fact that most people with barriers to reading haven't the financial standing to purchase $600 worth of tech, so providing a means for them to access your content affordably if of parramount importance to their access of it... I could go on...

"From my point of view, if someone offers a public accessible computer lab (at least in the US) they are required to provide reasonable access for the handicapped which almost always means that they will set aside one or two PCs which have huge monitors and real Text-to-speech software (you know the kind that can read the menu items too)."

I realize thats your point of view, but mine is of someone who needs that assistive tech, and have tried useing those 'dedicated' machines, and they such royaly. They only ever cater to blind users, they tend not to be as well maintained, they have the 'stigma' of being the 'handicaped PCs' etc... They are not a solution for me or most users with barriers to reading.

"I will concede that it is possible that you may occasionally need some form of text to speech software and not have access to it when using other peoples PCs. In these cases your software could possibly be more helpful than the Windows service, but even in these cases you are ignoring the other settings a PC will need to accommodate these people. Because even while my friends don't lock their PCs down to the point it is not possible to install software-- apparently yours do. I'm curious, do your friends also lock out the control panel? Because if I can't see the pointer how do I know what I'm pointing at. Not to mention that I will also need the other accessibility features turned on and most of my friend do turn those off first thing when they install a fresh copy of Windows. The facts are that someone who is completely blind has little use for the "point and read" feature of your software and someone who has severe vision problems needs allot more than a Text-to-speech reader to even be able to begin to effectively navigate a GUI environment (meaning that some setup is going to be required either way; so why not install a text-to-speech application while you're at it? [rhet])."

I don't get this whole paragraph. I don't want to install stuff on my friends machines because it would be an imposition, and is also often against the license of AT. I thought you'd found out how to use the access keys (F9). And refer to my previous about use of the mouse.

You would have heard the instructions if you were blind. You're not.

It took me some time to make it happen on Linux actually.

Firefox zoom is good if you have firefox, know where it is, and can read.

Thank you for the suggestion re allowing the use of human voices... I'll ponder.

"technology behind it is neither new or innovative"

Re spam, I'm clearly a 'real user'. Check my history. While I may occassionaly mention Talklets, it far from being my usually topic... I must say I find your comments rather agressive. I mention it when its relevant because (as you've illustrated yourself) there are many misconceptions about this field of tech. I hope this answers your comments fully. If not let me know... Actually yes it is, there are many ways inwhich we have developed on previous tech to opermize Talklets, so that it can run fast enough over the internet, to be useful to as many users as possible. The Smart story finder is also new. Which saves both blind and sighted people time on selecting the main content of the page. Again I could go on...

RETARDED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18658075)

how retarded is this?

Instead of creating a BIONIC eye so they can see like the rest of us why make a stupid dactile map?

shheessh...

Golledge is blind. (1)

robotrachel (990683) | more than 7 years ago | (#18658479)

Reginald Golledge, one of the people quoted in the article and a top-notch researcher in the field, is blind himself.

Ehh? What's going on? (5, Funny)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654059)

Force fields? Holographic maps? Invisibility cloaks?

How long was I asleep?

Re:Ehh? What's going on? (2, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654093)

Force fields? Holographic maps? Invisibility cloaks?

Overflow from April 1st.

Re:Ehh? What's going on? (2, Funny)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654463)

I don't know... and I am too busy playing duke nukem forever to care...

Re:Ehh? What's going on? (1)

pwroberts (600985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654967)

Force fields? Holographic maps? Invisibility cloaks?

How long was I asleep?

It's the year 2012. There have also been two new releases of Debian [slashdot.org] :-)

Re:Ehh? What's going on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18656403)

I'm sorry to bring this message to you, but... STILL no flying cars!

is this useful? (2, Funny)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654063)

I don't see it.

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655265)

Because men will NOT ask for directions. No matter what.

Force feedback (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654069)

OK the only original idea in TFA is a force feedback glove which simulates touching a surface by pushing back against fingers at the appropriate moment. I can think of lots of uses for that if the device can be put into production.

The rest of it is all about building physical models of spaces, then taking pictures of them and turning the pictures into 3D models using an algorithm which the author is obviously very proud of. Unfortunately most people who design stuff these days build a 3D model in software at the outset, so going the other way is useful, but not the first thing I would think of.

Re:Force feedback (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654407)

Perhaps more useful would be a system capable of doing the video-to-model conversion on the fly. Use stereoscopic cameras to make it easier to pick out moving objects, and suddenly the 3D model on the map becomes a lot more useful, capable of dealing with things like pedestrians and temporary barriers because it has no preconception of what the space 'should' look like.

Force Feedback is NOT a Force Field. (1)

Presence2 (240785) | more than 7 years ago | (#18657083)

Agreed, force feedback technology being used this way is a great concept with many practical applications, however I think using the term "force field" in the article is highly misleading, and the science journal's writer deserves a thumping for that. A hand isn't hitting an amazing new electromagnetic barrier, rather A glove is passing into a set of spatial coordinates it's programmed to respond to.

Cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654077)

By force feedback they mean a special peripheral punches you in the nose if you blindly navigate into a virtual wall.

Good (4, Funny)

Godman (767682) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654099)

now blind people can have porn too.

"Feels like a couple of hills over here, maybe a park a bit lower, feels like some bushes...."

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18655321)

Wait, what's that flagpole doing there?

Goatse would take on a whole new dimension of horror if you had to 'feel' it.

useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654263)

dosent this seem to be a technical advance that has little real use ?

well... (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654391)

Without even reading comments, one can safely assume that /.ers already thought of some misapplications of that.

Comment bot: FA void of anything new or useful (-1, Offtopic)

viking80 (697716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654481)

Disclaimer: This comment is an automated comment generated by a grease monkey script.

If you agree that the FA is posted by a blog whore, or if you do not want to read any future articles with no useful or new content, you can gray out all Roland Piquepaille articles with this script:

http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/5735/ [userscripts.org]

Enjoy!

The part that automatically posts this information is not included.

and... (1)

bjinatj (946918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654503)

The roads will never be safe again....

Offtopic moderation troll (-1, Troll)

viking80 (697716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654573)

I have in the previous post claimed that the FA is void of anything new and useful. This is my opinion, and apparently the opinion of most of /. readers. If you disagree with my position, post a reply as to why, and maybe you can convince me and others.

In any case is is certainly not off-topic.

Disclaimer: This comment is an automated comment generated by a grease monkey script.

If you agree that the FA is posted by a blog whore, or if you do not want to read any future articles with no useful or new content, you can gray out all Roland Piquepaille articles with this script:

http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/5735/ [userscripts.org] [userscripts.org]

Enjoy!

The part that automatically posts this information is not included.

ma8e (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654617)

cmarket. The8efore,

Too large? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18654625)

Well, nice idea, but I somehow fail to see a blind person walking around any time soon with a combination of a PHANTOM Desktop device (DESKTOP size, not that portable) and a CyberGrasp glove (just Google for it and check this bulky thing - including backback - out for yourself). These devices are probably great for lab applications, but as long as they aren't miniaturized, applications in which such devices are to be worn as portables are wishful thinking IMHO.

Audio maps (1)

Lord Satri (609291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18654747)

Related see this audio maps project [umd.edu] (via C [blogspot.com] ). Fron the former link: "In the case of geo-referenced data where users need to combine demographic, economic or other data in a geographic context for decision-making, we designed iSonic, an interactive sonification tool that allows users to explore in highly coordinated table and choropleth map views of the data. Sounds of various timbres and pitches are tied to map regions and other interface widgets to create a virtual auditory data display."

Japan's being using "modern tech" for ages... (2, Informative)

FFCecil (623749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655573)

I've been living in Japan for the last few years and they've been using "modern tech" to aid the blind for years. All subway/train/bus stations, and even most sidewalks in downtown areas, have pathways of raised bumps (like sidewalk braille) leading to/from all exits/stairways/crosswalks/etc. It's mind-numbing how pervasive these things are. Braille "enabled" maps are posted all over (with, of course, sidewalk-braille paths leading up to them). They even have braille written (embossed?) on staircase railings saying which floor is the next one up/down, and of course on all elevator buttons. But they don't stop there. Most subways/trains and even buses announce what stop they're at and which one is next. Not to mention the elevators, too.

Anyway, to make a long comment short, it doesn't take fancy tech to make the world easier for disabled people, but a willingness to spend public money to do so. I can't imagine how much all that infrastructure costs, but then I look at my taxes...

Nice try... (0, Troll)

PoopDaddy (1064616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18655791)

April Fools was last weekend.

Not all that useful: (2, Informative)

musther (961493) | more than 7 years ago | (#18657331)

I'm visually impaired, and I went to a school of visually impaired people, so I have experience of technologies to help blind people. Personally, I can see well enough to use a map with a magnifier, but this flashy new tech isn't aimed at me.

People who have been blind from birth almost always (there are some exceptions) find it immensely difficult to use maps or diagrams, even if they're very well made, with different textures and good labels. The problem seems to be that they can only really take in the bit they're feeling at the time, as they feel different bits, their brain doesn't stick them together because they're not used to visually scanning things. The same thing happens when they read Braille, or even raised text, they are only taking in the bit they are feeling at the time, and they must recognise every letter because they can't scan as sighted people can.

Now, people who loose their sight later have learnt to visually scan, and can make better use of maps. They can also visualise spaces more effectively, some are quite astounding - these are the kind of people who lay out a couple of ropes in their garden, map it in their head, and then quite confidently use a chainsaw on the excess growth.

But the problem is, even blind people who can use maps don't need this new tech, cheaper and easier methods already exist. One for example, involves printing a black and white document (which could contain text-labels in the Braille font), on special paper (via an ordinary ink or laser printer). The paper is then gently heated from above, the areas coloured black absorb more heat and the special plastics on the surface of the paper expand raising the image. This system isn't limited to just black and white, usually about five levels are achievable, then of course you can use dotted or dashed lines, and tricks like that to distinguish things.
The other main method of map production takes longer, it involves making a 3D map by hand, and then melting a sheet of plastic over the top, the plastic is then removed preserving the impression.

The other problem with maps is that sighted people usually look around them at landmarks (like street names) and then look at the map to find out where they are. Blind people reading street signs, or 'seeing' the cathedral at the end of the street. Sounds difficult.

A new navigational aid for blind people is a talking GPS, and although I haven't actually had any personal experience with it, I've had good reports, and of course it doesn't rely on map reading or visualising in any way. With a talking GPS and a guide dog, a blind person could quite confidently make a trip to a new city. Having said that, many blind people already do, with other tools, and nothing more than a long cane. Blind people are disadvantaged, but if they are prepared to think creatively about the problems they face, they can figure out how to conquer most situations.

Re:Not all that useful: (1)

geopsychic (932419) | more than 7 years ago | (#18659147)

The textured ink / special paper display could be a real help for displaying changing graphical information. Especially if it can be done rapidly - near real time. Carried to an extreme a "tactile CRT" to display things like weather maps, etc. would be very worthwhile.

Maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18685663)

I think that using technology to help peoples well being is an awesome idea. It does seem high tech and unbelievable that these maps are possible but anything to help people live fuller, happier lives is very worthwhile if they would be helpful to the blind people who would use them.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?