Blind Bargains

#CSUNATC17: Hims and Android, It Just Makes Braille Sense


Today at CSUN, HIMS is officially unveiling its latest product in the line of Braille Sense notetakers known as the Braille Sense Polaris. The Polaris, unlike previous Braille Sense models which have run on Windows CE, will run on Android 5 Lollypop. It will contain many of the Sense suite of applications and also retain much of the menu structure found on all previous models. Features like the Bookshare Downloader, Bard app, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and others which can be downloaded and are usable from the Google Play store are not included.

According to Dave Wilkinson from HIMS, the new device will weigh 1.67 pounds, which is less than the Braille Sense u2. ON the back side of the device, from left to right, you will find an option to secure your Braille Sense Polaris with a lock to prevent people from stealing it, an HDMI port, and a port for plugging in an AC adapter. Moving along the right panel from back to front, there is an SDXC card slot, and a Micro USB port which can also serve to charge the device as well as using it as a braille terminal. Along the front, you will find the standard 5 media buttons found on all Braille Sense products, a switch for changing what the media buttons do, and a lock switch. Along the left side, the user will find 2 volume buttons, a headphone jack, microphone jack, and a USB 2.0 port for connecting flash drives, keyboards, or other peripherals. On the surface of the device from back to front, you will find stereo speakers with an LCD display in the middle, in front of that the is the Perkins style keyboard. There are also 2 more buttons next to the spacebar, located underneath the dots, which are the control and alt keys. These are used for Android specific functions. You also still have the function 1-4 keys, which perform specific actions in the same manor they have done for years with the Braille sense products. Below these function keys you will find the cursor routing buttons, a small space which contains sensors for doing touch screen gestures, and finally the 32 cell braille display with the diamond shaped scrolling buttons at each end.

The Braille Sense Polaris will run on a 2.1 GHZ Octacore processor, 64 GB of internal memory, 2 GB of RAM, and will support wireless charging. It will support all modern wireless networks, have an internal GPS receiver and compass, have an NFC chip for mobile payments and other functions, Bluetooth 4.2,, a 12 megapixel camera, and will support Android Pay.

Speaking from a software perspective, the Braille Sense Polaris will use the Vocalizer Expressive Samantha TTS while connected to the Braille Sense side of things, and whatever Android TTS the user desires for the Android side. While the Word Processor has the same look and feel that it always has, it's running a fairly popular office suite for Android called Polaris Office, which includes Polaris Word. Wilkinson also reported that there will be full support for Google classroom, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive and the Google Play Store. The Polaris will use Chrome as the web browser, and will also have a media player which supports many audio types. Finally, the Polaris will support BRL and BRF formats similar to previous models, and will also have support for both UEB and Nemith Math. The initial release will also support Terminal for Screen Reader for PC and iOS, and the author assumes, the Mac.

According to Wilkinson, they expect to ship the product in May. They also plan to release a smaller version, but are not committed to creating a QWERTY model at this time. The 32 cell version is expected to cost $5795 with an early adopter price of $5295. A trade in program will be offered as well, with $1800 for trading in of either a Braille Sense u2 or BrailleNote Touch. A BrailleNote Touch 18 will get you $800. Other details will be forthcoming.

Check out [our podcast with Dave Wilkinson]( http://www.blindbargains.com/b/16785) to learn more about the Polaris.

Category: News
Displaying 4 comments.
gallagher123123 Wednesday, 01-Mar-2017 8:38 PM ET:

I should have known that HIMS would make an android notetaker to go after the Braillenote Touch. Wow, this sounds like an amazing device. i’m looking forward to seeing it in Orlando.


darknexus Thursday, 02-Mar-2017 2:17 PM ET:

Why is it that every one of these devices is outdated the instant it comes out? Android 5.0? Do they not comprehend online security whatsoever?


blindaudio Saturday, 04-Mar-2017 09:01 AM ET:

It will be very interesting to see how this new Hims product lines up in all of the new note-takers out there. As a sense user myself, this news really excites me. This being said, while I'm sure Hims has worked very hard on this unit, 5,795 dollars seems a bit of a high price to pay. Humanware's Braillenote touch is only priced at 5,495 which is 300 dollars less. I understand that this technology is expensive to make, but at that pricepoint, I'm really not sure this new braille sense can compete.


dvm975 Thursday, 09-Mar-2017 11:00 AM ET:

Will the U2 $1,800 trade-in option be available to Canadians?


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