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Georgie: Android app for blind / visually impaired people

Discussion in 'mobiles, tablets and wearable tech' started by mrs quoad, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa


    My dad's been looking at this (or Siri / iPhone) as he's completely blind & interested in getting a phone, if he'll realistically be able to use it.

    He went to the 'Sight Village' exhibition in Brum yesterday, and was moderately impressed by Georgie.

    This seems to be the most comprehensive overview I've encountered so far, and that isn't saying much: http://mashable.com/2012/07/17/android-app-for-blind-smartphone-users/

    It links to this video:

    I'd really appreciate any information, thoughts or real-world feedback about this.

    My dad had been seeing it as directly comparable to Siri, the main difference being the £ridiculous for an iPhone vs the £less ridiculous for a Galaxy Y (£300 with the £150 app loaded, tbf).

    I had originally taken his word for it, and'd got the impression that Siri was arse-faced for what he wanted. Like, it might be a bit of a PITA, and it's not specifically designed for blind people. Unlike Georgie.

    But the more I've browsed about it, the less convinced I've become.

    The impression I've got is that it's almost entirely touch-based, with the exception of voice recognition for text messages. So, like, hold the screen until it tells you what button your finger's on. Then press that button. Which, ok, is great in terms of making touch screens more accessible to blind people (I'm less interested in partially sighted bc that's not what my dad is, though the buttons can also be made good / high contrast colours). But sounds like - IMinitialU - a bit arsefaced and messy in terms of interface.

    So, Christ... looking at the Youtube promotional video... I'm left with the impression that in order to text, my dad would have to negotiate to the text screen via buttons, and then would be able to use whatever voice recognition technology to write it, and would then have to find / hit the button for send.

    To dial a phone number he'd have to navigate to the 'phone' button, then hold his finger on each button to work out where he was to type 'zero.... seven.... seven..... six..... five....) etc. Which... just sounds... fucked up. tbh. An improvement on unmoderated touch screens, but shit - utterly shit - compared to (e.g.) a phone with a HARD NUMBERPAD. (Though those might lack voice recognition, and it might be more difficult to navigate to the right screen).


    Text recognition from the camera. But that's an extra £25 (in addition to the £150 cost of the app). As part of the 'communications' DLC / package.

    Newspapers read out loud. That's an extra £25, too, as part of the 'lifestyles' package.

    You can also programme in GPS warnings - so that as you walk around your favourite routes, you can have a warning about an upcoming low branch that you walked into last week. AFAICT, that's free.

    And a 'panic' button, which instantly sends your GPS position to your wife / carer, so she can call you up and tell you where you are / drive out and find you. Think that's part of the £25 communications package.

    SO.... long story short... if those DLCs / additions are worth it - to him - I'm guessing Georgie might be a goer for my dad.

    Otherwise... am I missing something? It sounds like £150 for a not-great interface that just about bastardises a touch screen phone to a point of functionality, with the useful 'camera text recognition' function bolting another £25 onto that.

    So, like, £300 for a Galaxy Y with Georgie pre-installed (pretty sure you could find the Y cheaper and DL Georgie for the £150, but ay).

    On that basis, tbh I'm tempted to suggest to my dad that he at least tries out Siri before going ahead with Georgie. If only because - shit as the voice recognition may be - it sounds one fuck of a lot smoother for most day-to-day functions than Georgie.

    Though, like I said, any outside input / suggestions / thoughts greatly appreciated :hmm:
  2. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    Similarly - other integrated / accessibility apps, particularly for blind people, greatly appreciated!
  3. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    In a nutshell:
    Really does sound like there're no voice commands (or equivalent).

    I'm massively unconvinced; then again, I'm not blind :D
  4. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Annoyingly noisy demo here:
  5. grit

    grit an ugly force for good

    The approach they describe seems to be the best to be honest, getting the voice recognition to an acceptable standard would be a massive feat of engineering.
  6. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    I'll need to ask my sister more detail. She uses a screenreader app on an Android. It's a suite of accessable apps, giving access to many of the phone's functions but has it's own web browser, amongst other accessable alternatives. Personlly, I don't like this approach if I've any choice. I want access to the stuff already there, not more processes to run.

    Speaking as a blind IOS user myself, my understanding in general terms. The touch screen accessability on phones other than the Iphone, has not been solved. To use an Android phone with any screenreader app, you need one with a physical QWERTY keyboard before you can consider the software you'll need.

    My current phone is a Nokia E52 (standard T9 layout)running Talx screenreader software on Symbion. This works pretty well, though there's noteable overhead in terms of sppeed and battery life. With IOS, I use an aging Ipod Touch 3G with Voiceover and it works extremely well. Many of the third party apps also work well, though you're best to read reviews before hand. (Excluding most games for obvious reasons.)

    I'm due an upgrade and aside money issues ATM, I'm going for the Iphone 4S. For all the flack Apple get, they get stuff right regarding this. It works out of the box.

    Regarding Siri. I tried this on a friend's phone the other day. Admittidly they were simple queries but I could use Siri, with Voiceover running too, for a couple of Google searches.
    mrs quoad likes this.
  7. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    General note. What sighted peple think of as accessable, often times is gimicky or pretty useless. Just because it speaks some things, doesn't mean you can use it for much in a real world situation.

    If you're dad can afford it, I'd definitely recommend trying the Iphone.

    Though maybe harder to get due to touch screen being vogue, Talx on a Nokia with physical keys, works fine if you just want a regular smart phone.

    As in. I can use my Nokia for Youtube, Facebook, all the normal phone stuff. Obv some websites are impracticlly slow to navigate using it and the Ipod Touch is better. But then, a PC with QWERTY keyboard I need for other things too.
    mrs quoad likes this.
  8. grit

    grit an ugly force for good

    Wow, thats fascinating, the lack of tactile feedback always made me wonder how a blind person deals with this shift in phones... sounds like there is a huge gap in the market on android at least to try and solve this problem.... I'm getting ideas.
  9. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    Yep. It was a revelation, being able to use a touch screen. Seriously, I'm no Apple fanboy. Don't own a mac, etc. But the Ipod Touch is one of the best things I've ever bought. Needed someone to switch Voiceover on initially but I still marvle at having this little pocket computer thing. (Although I don't post to Urban from it. Typing is a bit slow.)

    FWIW The way it works with Voiceover. You tap the screen, it announces what you've tapped. To activate it, then do a double tap. There are different jestures to the usual ones, for moving around. Flick left and right to move on to next icon. Double finger swipe down, to read from top of screen, double finger tap to stop and start reading from where the focuss is, etc.
  10. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    Just spoke to my sister,she uses the Android software, Mobile Accessability by Code Factory.

    Apparently it can work on a touch screen but you need to at least, have a physical cursor key. She's not been using it that long so can't give you any feedback on web accessability etc ATM. it uses it's own suite of aps though. So I'm not sure how much access you get to the build in utilities in Android OS. (That would irc me TBH.) Course the problem is, you need to have an Android phone to try this stuff to start with. If your dad's on a contract Mrs Q, pull the whole reasonable adjustment thing, to get an Iphone 4S, if he decides to go that route. it's worked for a blind friend on Vodafone, though only after they sent her a series of Android phone upgrades she couldn't use...
  11. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    He's entirely new to mobiles. He's just retired (from being a self-employed publisher, which probably indicates how willing he is to engage with assistive technologies...) and is - I think - enjoying having a bit of spare time to e.g. explore mobile phones :D
  12. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    ISTR you have / had an Ipod Touch Mrs Q? If it's 3G or later, you should be able to switch voiceover on / off with a tripple click on the home button, for a play round. I can see it would be difficult for someone not very dexterous but you can get round the screens pretty quickly. I could get quicker at actually typing on it but I'm lazy...

    This might help regarding the Talx software I use. Basically it runs on certain phones running Symbion. I'll be interested to see what progress Microsoft and Nokia make with accessability on their newer phones.


    With that, it repurposes one of the Nokia keys to operate a second tear of functions. Pressing the "Talx" key then F2, reads the status item, for example. Texting and usual phone stuff works absolutely fine with Predictive text off.

    Costs circa £150 although if on a contract, the provider should really pay for it. or at least, Vodafone did for me.

    As a compettetor there's also Mobile Speak by Code Factory but I've no experience of it.
  13. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    Yeah - and thanks for this. We've got two iPod 4gs and an iPad floating around, too.

    My dad's visiting this w/e (got a birthday next week) so I've suggested trialling VoiceOver whilst he's up. That'd be in addition / alongside Siri, obv, but it'd at least begin to give him an idea of what's out there.

    I've forwarded him your first couple of answers, too; and'll forward the rest should he voice any interest in Talx :D

    Many thanks!
  14. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    NO worries. :)

    Last couple of things. If that tripple tap home doesn't switch Voiceover on, go to the settings / accessability options. There's also a screen there, where you can practise the voiceover jestures.

    And be aware, with Voiceover on, it's possible to toggle mute the speech by a double tap with 3 fingers but voiceover's still running.
  15. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    Ahhh, triple click won't do it because I've got my triple clicks set to 'negative colouring' :D

    But I had a scan earlier and it looks easy enough. Wouldn't do it until my dad was getting here anyhoos.

    But ty!
  16. grit

    grit an ugly force for good

    Xenon, excuse my curiosity, but how do you compose your posts on urban?
  17. Dan U

    Dan U Boompty

    my blind step father uses a screen reader on an android based phone with a physical keyboard. he is nearing 70 and copes fine (although he has been blind since birth and loves technology)

    he is interested in using Siri so will be keen to see how Xenon gets on :)
  18. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    Using Windows, for the most part, i use JAWS screenreader.

    Everything done through keyboard shortcus, - no mouse. Though you can simulate a mouseclick. Is very customiseable and works with most regular software. With caviets. A lot of flash, web based stuff and Java apps, are a problem. The software is pretty expensive too. I'm about 3 major versions out of date.

    FWIW I use Linux a bit too and again whilst not perfect accessability wise, can still get a lot done.
    Vinux Distro

    Not sure when I'll upgrade. I'll post a quick update if people interested. When I did use it allbeit briefly in a fairly quiet room, I was quite impressed with it's accuracy and response time.
  19. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    Well, here's my dad's take on Georgie after one day. Bits in square brackets are addenda to the email he sent the Georgie people.

    10 sales in the last week - I'm guessing that'll mean that development mightn't be rocket fast. Though, tbf, that's sales of handsets with Georgie, rather than the software itself...
    Greebo likes this.
  20. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    The couple of people who developed it are leading lights in British Computer Association of the Blind.
    Greebo likes this.
  21. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    After 3-ish days, he still hasn't managed to send a text (based on voice recognition) on his own, and hasn't yet worked out how to get it to read his texts back to him. My mum's checking them (and - unsurprisingly, given it's voice recognition) finding a fair few unreadable / incomprehensible errors.

    He's managing to answer one in 3 calls (with the other 2 in 3 hanging up automatically or accidentally diverting to voicemail).

    And fuck only knows what he's doing with what, but he insists he's (with help) sent me two texts and called me once, but nothing's come through :D

    If this wasn't his first phone, if he wasn't able to write 'personal' emails to the inventor, and if he wasn't experiencing the joys of feeling like an outright early adopter, I kinda get the feeling this might've gone back. I get the feeling that it's - actually - not helping him (yet) in any way that an iPhone couldn't've done; but (perhaps unsurprisingly) with far worse integration, and a tonne of 'hidden' (i.e. dumb / unspoken) options - like the mute button, and whatever the fuck it was that DLed £25 of stuff on his first day.
  22. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    ^^^ unprompted, btw. I've been careful not to mention iPhones, as I'm aware that my horror at / interpretation of his experience with Georgie might be skewed by my expectations of technology. And familiarity with phones. And lack of blindness.
  23. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    Following another 4 emails to Georgie's support today (which I've been copied into :D) I think this is the crux of the matter:

    My dad *loves* being involved like that :D

    Following his retirement, he's now got a new project.

    quimcunx, Mrs Magpie and firky like this.
  24. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    I don't know how the voice recognition for Georgie works. As in, whether they have their own back end servers, like Siri. Or the interpreatation is done on the handset. Which sounds very taxing on the phone's resources. Shame to hear it's not exactly been a smooth introduction.

    I haven't got a new phone yet. Realising I would miss physical buttons quite a bit. Whether that's a good trade off for being able to carry one device around or not, I haven't decided. Also, as I use my Ipod daily. The idea of plugging and unplugging the earphones a lot seems might prematurely wear out the jack or be a nusence anyway.
  25. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Android is pretty much universally recognised as having the fastest and most accurate voice recognition - and Jelly Bean further improves on it - but if course it will also be down to the user experience for a blind person.

    The fact that Google are responding to mails is encouraging.
  26. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    That's ace, it's fuck all use if it won't read it back, though :D

    And it's only the actual writing of texts that is by voice command, IMU. In order to get there, you've still got to navigate touch screens.
  27. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Well, of course: that's why I said it's down to the overall user experience - that's something Apple is usually strongest at, but things are very different when it comes to designing for blind users. The fact that Google are getting involved with your feedback sounds a good start, no?

    Btw, Siri is pretty much unusable for my nephews as it can't understand their Welsh accents at all!
  28. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    tbf, google aren't; the app's devs are.

    Given my dad's one of only ten people to've bought a handset in its launch week, I suspect they're not exactly buried under a deluge of feedback atm. But, yeah, I think that is one of the things that appeals to him.
  29. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    My husband just has a really old phone with a broken screen and tells people not to send him texts.
    zenie likes this.
  30. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad usage breakfast sausage breakfast sa

    I still haven't received a text from my dad. Even a nonsense one.

    I think he's now been trying since last Tuesday :D

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