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Touch Typing Your Way to New Apps and Social Networking on the iPhone

October 28, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Kevin Chao demonstrates shopping in the iTunes App Store, posting to Twitter and sending a text message by entering text on the iPhone’s virtual on-screen keyboard using the touch typing method.

Follow these steps to switch between “standard typing” and “touch typing” modes:

  1. Move to a field that requires typing and double tap to start editing.
  2. Positioning two fingers on the screen, twist them like a dial several times until you hear “Typing Mode” spoken.
  3. Flick up or down to toggle between “standard typing” and “touch typing” mode. Standard typing mode is the default, which requires double tapping or split tapping on everything in order to type. Touch typing, which is the mode being demonstrated in this podcast, allows automatic entry of text as soon as the finger is lifted. Touch typing mode can be faster for advanced users.

Download, Play or Pause – Touch Typing Your Way to New Apps and Social Networking on the iPhone

Categories: iPhone, podcast, tips

Recording the World Using Voice Memos on the iPhone

October 20, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Kevin Chao demonstrates recording and trimming audio on the iPhone using the built-in Voice Memos app. Voice Memos is a handy utility for tasks ranging from basic voice-note taking to recording a demonstration of another iPhone app or feature right on the device without the need to use any additional equipment.

Download, Play or Pause – Recording the World Using Voice Memos on the iPhone

Blind Video Experiment – Standing on a Street Corner – Take 2

October 19, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

I have implemented some useful feedback I received Tuesday morning, and this second take from the same street corner is the result. The iPhone was oriented in landscape mode and I took care to pan more slowly by moving my hips and shoulders while keeping my feet still. Additional feedback is now requested. The next video will be completely different.

Watch this video on YouTube or on Easy Youtube.
Categories: iPhone, video

Hey There, Who Are You Talking to on HeyTel?

October 18, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Parker Waddington and Randy Rusnak from Accessible Devices and VIP Conduit hold a conversation demonstrating the HeyTel iPhone walkie-talkie application. Described by its developer as “instant voice messaging,” HeyTel operates similar to amateur radio, citizens’ band (CB) radio and the push-to-talk cellular services offered by companies like NexTel.

Download, Play or Pause – Hey There, Who Are You Talking to on HeyTel?

Categories: iPhone, podcast

A Brain, Cane, Pair of Ears and My Trusty iPhone Show Me the Way

October 17, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Enjoy this approximately 36-minute sound-seeing adventure as I get off the bus, check into the bus stop using Foursquare, cross two streets, walk to a shopping center and combine use of the A+ Voice Compass iPhone app with a bit of sighted assistance to locate Supercuts for a long-needed hair cut. It is just one example of the responsible combination of traditional orientation and mobility skills and technology to achieve successful results while traveling as a blind person.

Download, Play or Pause – A Brain, Cane, Pair of Ears and My Trusty iPhone Show Me the Way

What is that thing anyway, oMoby?

October 16, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Kevin Chao demonstrates oMoby, a visual-search application for the iPhone that enables users to take pictures of objects and identify them quickly.

Originally intended for use by sighted people as a shopping tool for locating similar products and making price comparisons, visual-search tools like oMoby and Noogle Noggles are helping blind people independently count their cash, identify their groceries and hear visual descriptions of many other objects.

Download, Play or Pause – What is that thing anyway, oMoby?

Categories: iPhone, podcast, tips

Dancing Around the World of Barcodes with Digit-Eyes

October 16, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Kevin Chao demonstrates Digit-Eyes, an iPhone app that scans the barcodes found on commercial products and enables the creation and use of audio or text labels that can be easily attached to items found in the home, on the job or at school.

Digit-Eyes relies on the iPhone’s camera to scan barcodes. Correct positioning of the iPhone is critical for the successful use of Digit-Eyes, Noogle Noggles, oMoby or any other app that uses the camera. There is a learning curve for most blind people who wish to use these apps, but employing a systematic approach and staying patient can really pay off in the long run.

Follow these steps to start scanning with Digit-Eyes:

  1. Find and double tap the Digit-Eyes icon on the Home screen.
  2. Flick to the right to locate the Scan button and double tap it to get the party started.
  3. Digit-Eyes immediately begins scanning and a ticking sound is heard to let you know it is working.
  4. While Digit-Eyes is scanning, position the iPhone so that it is lined up with the product being scanned and follow our camera-handling tips for best results.
  5. You will hear a beep and VoiceOver will speak the name of the identified item when the scan has completed successfully.
  6. If you are unable to complete the scan after several minutes, flick to the right to find the Cancel button and double tap it so you may try again later.

We thank Nancy Miracle, president of Digital Miracles, the company that develops and sells Digit-Eyes, for providing some quick tips for successfully using the iPhone’s camera:

  • Make sure the screen curtain is not enabled. Digit-Eyes can’t see anything when the iPhone’s display is blank. Triple tap using three fingers to toggle the screen curtain on and off.
  • Make sure there is light for the camera to acquire a good image. If you are indoors, it may be necessary to turn on a light.
  • Place a finger immediately to the right of the camera, which is located in the upper-righthand corner of the iPhone when it is facing away from you. This will help you line it up with the item to be scanned.
  • Place the iPhone approximately two inches above the object and gradually move it upward. The recommended approximate distance varies according to the device being used. Place the iPhone 3 G S approximately six inches away from the object being scanned. The iPhone 4 should be placed between six and 12 inches away. The new iPod Touch should be placed 12 to 20 inches distant.
  • Never move the iPhone from side to side while scanning. The camera’s automatic focusing technology apparently can’t capture a good image under these conditions.
  • Gradually turn round objects like bottles, cans and jars clockwise or counterclockwise in increments of 60 degrees while scanning. Simply scan the four sides of rectangular and square objects. In most, but not all, cases, the barcode will be found on the front or back of a box.
  • The barcodes on many grocery and other products typically found in stores may be located in unexpected places. For example, the barcode may be located on the bottom of a box of breakfast cereal. It may be helpful to think about the way a product might be positioned on the conveyor belt in the grocery store during the check-out process to determine where to look for its barcode.
  • Keep in mind that the camera in the iPhone does not work like the ID Mate or other products based on laser barcode scanners. Using products like Digit-Eyes is going to require a great deal of patience and practice in the beginning while you learn effective techniques for estimating the correct distance between the iPhone and the item being scanned and lining the iPhone up with the product so that a clear picture can be taken.
  • The Digit-Eyes website contains exhaustive information and tutorials covering the effective use of the product. It even gives you the ability to print practice sheets of barcodes you can scan with your iPhone.
  • Nancy and I discussed Digit-Eyes and the iPhone’s camera in depth in a two-part interview broadcast on the July 24 and July 31 episodes of ACB Radio’s Main Menu technology show.

Have you found a technique for using the camera that works well for you? Do you have an interesting story to tell about how Digit-Eyes and other camera-based iPhone apps have helped increase your independence? If so, please share it with us in the comments.

Download, Play or Pause – Dancing Around the World of Barcodes with Digit-Eyes

Categories: iPhone, tips, tutorials

Wearing Google Goggles and Looking Through the Noogle Noggles Lens

October 15, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Kevin Chao identifies several objects using Noogle Noggles, an iPhone app that provides an accessible interface to the Google Goggles visual-search engine.

Noogle Noggles enables the user to take a picture of an object, quickly identify it and get more information about it straight from Google. It is being used by blind people to identify books, cards, groceries, household items, money and many other types of objects.

Download and Listen – Wearing Google Goggles and Looking Through the Noogle Noggles Lens

Categories: iPhone