Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Qast 122: The Keepsake Edition


J.J. is recording from a mystery spot in New Jersey this week. Joe is no longer distracted by illness nor baseball. That means there is a user-requested discussion about grocery shopping in the cards for the middle portion of the episode. But don't worry, as a live tip, the "Last Word" and an amazing email arrived for "Sound Off".

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In The News:

Palo Alto nonprofit Benetech wins a $42.5M Dept. of Education grant, a nod to founder Jim Fruchterman s quest to help the blind

Important information for #NVDASR users and #Firefox 57.

Dolphin releases Easy Converter Express

iPhone X Review: There are Some Adjustments and Compromises, but I Can t Imagine Going Back

MBraille version 4 sports more languages and other features

HumanWare is now shipping the VictorReader Trek, delivering orientation & entertainment in one mobile package!

Be sure to check out the Access World November Holiday Buying Guide

Survey of the week! PDF and the User Experience Survey 2017

This year's Seedlings Auction is now underway

Discussion: Grabbing Groceries With Amazon Now, Shipt And InstaCart

Several listeners have asked how the BBQ Crew does their food shopping chores. Joe and J.J. will focus on three services that they use fairly often for nabbing the noms. Be sure to log into these services to see if they are active in your area. Also, due to the nature of how apps update, there is no guarantee that each of these services is screen reader friendly at the time you decide to try them. All we can say is that, at the time of recording, they work with mobile devices or the web.
Amazon Prime Now

Great if you want something in two hours. Especially if it is a nonconventional item, like an iMac, but limited on things like fresh or frozen foods. If you are a Prime member, then you already have access to this service if it is active in your area. The downside here is that you can't find some types of products and you might go broke on the things you do find when just searching for random stuff.

Shipt
J.J. notes that he uses this service for his weekly food runs. Text-based communication with the shopper is helpful and there is a $5.99 fee for delivery that runs under $35.
Needs JJ promo code here

Instacart
Joe likes the containerized reading and look of the app. he mentioned that you can customize an provide instructions ahead of time to a shopper if there is a possibility of an item being out of stock. You can pay $150 a year to gain free deliveries, however, the service often has promotional items that can qualify you for free delivery. The downside for this one is that you have to watch for "busy", or what you might think of as surge, pricing. And you will want to learn about how InstaCart pays their shoppers. Or, as with both non Amazon services, you could just tip the shopper with cash to avoid any pitfalls you might encounter with a shopper getting paid the proper amount for their generous time.

If you are interested in trying out Instacart, here is Joe's referral link.

Tip: Uber now lets you add multiple stops to your ride

Lyft will let you add a midway point to your trip if you would like to, say, pick up that latest trendy food item from Taco Bell. But who needs that when you could add two more stops to that trip by using Uber instead. J.J. outlines the steps for doing just that in this week's tip suggestion.

Sound Off:

Christopher Bartlett writes in with the subject line of "Help with pairing Win 10 to chromecast audio".

"I'm casting about (ha, see what i did there?) for a solution to getting my Win 10 machine to cast audio to a Chromecast Audio unit I have plugged into my nice stereo across the room. I'm wondering if you, or any of your listeners have successfully solved this problem. I've tried installing three separate applications that purport to do this, and none of them are either accessible, nor result in the production of any audio where I want it. I've exhausted my resources, and am hoping that you two resourceful folk, or a resourceful listener can help me do this thing.
Chris"

Chris is right in that there are a few apps out there, and sadly, they all don't really work very well. Chromecast Audio has the ability to do full dynamic range playback and Google has said in the past that the best way to deliver this experience is through Wi-Fi. To be fair, with Bluetooth Audio yet again undergoing a new spec transition, this is the more futureproof way of doing things. And it works well for record collections uploaded to Google Play or casting from Chrome on Win 10. There is, as we noted earlier in the year, BT support for Google Home. Yet there is no 3.5 jack for that device. Looks like Chris may need to look into a dongle to do the functionality requested, if he has an input available that is, on his stereo system. Many midrange home theater and traditional stereos now sport AirPlay, ChromeCast and Bluetooth 4x out of the box. It just depends on the make and model if they have all three on board.

Now get ready as Ben drops the knowledge on us about Tactile Holograms.

"Hello Joe, J.J., and anyone else on the Blind Bargains team.

I listen to the Blind Bargains podcast, and greatly appreciate its content. I believe this podcast covers very important ground, without overlapping other great blindness-related podcasts.

I would like to present a topic to Blind Bargains, and receive any feedback and recommendations that this team may have. The topic is tactile holograms. I became interested in tactile holograms about a year ago, when I was researching the extinct Optacon. I basically ended up on a German website that was blindness-related. It had a small section in English on tactile holograms, and this got my attention. Since then, my mind has ebbed and flowed on this topic. But recently I have felt an ongoing need to state my opinions and observations quite publicly.

There may be tremendous opportunities to advance assistive technology for the blind by using tactile hologram technology. I will use the word blind throughout this entire e-mail, even though I have many more people in mind than only those without light perception. It seems quite likely to me that the Blind Bargains team members have already thought of this topic.

My goal is to network with people who know much more about science and technology than I do, to persuade people that it is worthwhile to heavily research tactile holograms in the context of blindness, and to raise significant funds in this arena of research. In my opinion, we already have nearly all the scientific research we could ever hope for in the quest to give sight to the blind. The money going into this quest may be even more spectacular. For now, I believe that scientists should begin researching and developing touchable hologram technology with a keenness that is orders of magnitude greater than at the present. For the record, I live in the United States, in Missouri.

It has been possible to make holograms that could be felt by human hands since at least as far back as 2008. For all I know, this ability may have existed before then. It appears to me that very few people have done in-depth research regarding tactile holograms at this point. Surprisingly, the imagination regarding how tactile holograms may help the blind is barely present on the internet in written form.

From searching with Google, the idea of tactile holograms seems to have never been widely discussed or promoted on the internet through writing. Rather, the vast majority of the written content pertaining to this topic appears to have been published between 2008 and 2016. Barely any of this content appears to have been published in 2016. The internet is indeed a much more manufactured and curated arena now than it was in the past. But I ll give Google the benefit of the doubt throughout this e-mail. I am thrilled that some individuals have already done incredible research regarding tactile holograms. But it seems clear to me that much more awareness and participation is still necessary. As stated, the available written information on the internet regarding tactile holograms often does not include content regarding blind individuals. When the blind are mentioned, there is almost no deep discussion or imagination regarding how tactile holograms may be helpful in assistive technology.

Between this paragraph and the next, I have pasted 5 URL s, which qualitatively and topically seem to represent nearly all the written information on tactile holograms that is available to the public free-of-charge. I also put the title of each webpage above its URL. I will admit that to the best of my memory, I did not yet listen to the YouTube videos on this topic. I will probably do this rather soon. If much more information is available in the videos than in the text of the below URL s, I will not resist, but will be glad. I am not trying to go on an extended rant. But based on the minimal written information on tactile holograms, I do not expect YouTube videos to have superior information.

Scientists develop incredible holograms you can touch | Alphr

Five Futuristic Interfaces on Display at SIGGRAPH - MIT Technology Review

How Haptics Make Holograms You Can Touch - Motherboard

3D virtual objects that can be touched and felt

Mohamad Eid: The Touchable Holograms of the Future | The Gazelle

One of the most comprehensive webpages I have found on the topic of tactile holograms, whose URL is immediately above, is titled Mohamad Eid: The Touchable Holograms of the Future . The blind are briefly mentioned there, but do not receive much focus. Even in this article, the blind are not discussed or mentioned whatsoever after the author uses the word hologram for the first time. I intend to aid in the serious promotion of tactile holograms as an active research path. Above all, I desire that at least one portable and affordable tool, based on tactile holograms, be developed for the blind.

Tactile hologram technology may potentially exist in many products and be used for many applications. For example, it may allow the blind to read Braille on a desk, on the lap, or in mid-air. It could aid in all STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) subjects. Touchable holograms may even let many blind people drive bicycles if the required hardware becomes portable, and if bicycles are modified to allow steering and braking with the use of one hand.

At least some of the existing tactile hologram technology allows human manipulation of the projection. One example, also from one of the above URL s, involves a light switch (https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/78xa5x/how-haptics-make-holograms-you-can-touch). Therefore, many different kinds of multimodal systems could be developed. For example, a blind person could potentially feel a representation of a cow s ear, and then ask a voice assistant on a computer or mobile phone What color is this? . Then, the text-to-speech from the voice assistant could answer the above question. This is only one of many possibilities. Of course, we could include screen readers, Braille displays, magnification, and nearly every other assistive technology as well, as appropriate.

By using portable tactile hologram technology, the blind can potentially feel a real-time 3-dimensional representation of what a wearable video camera captures. Furthermore, if this tactile holographic representation can update many times per second, then this could radically increase the available information that can be used for independent travel. Also, this may make independent travel much easier and more spontaneous for the Deafblind. This would at the minimum require a video camera, a way to mount or carry this camera, a powerful and portable computer, a wearable projector that projects the tactile hologram to an area that is ergonomically reachable by one s hand or hands, and wires or a wireless protocol that can quickly transmit large amounts of data.

I am neither a hardware nor software developer. However, I use assistive technology on a daily basis. I believe that my imagination is one of my strongest assets. I am totally blind. I am an orientation and mobility specialist with Rehabilitation Services for the Blind of Missouri.

I desire to see serious and immediate research into tactile holograms for the blind, whether or not I profit financially. If tactile holograms can benefit the blind, I would like to soon see several portable and affordable solutions incorporating this technology. I desire that tactile holograms become a topic of discussion again, and that this discussion be much richer than last time, especially regarding potential use by the blind. There is no doubt that disability education must play a significant part in this process. Otherwise, the average technology enthusiast, who shares much in common with the average human being in general, will be unable to imagine why blind people would desire access to tactile hologram technology. Hopefully, the practical applications of this technology will become understandable to the average person, and people will no longer think that tactile holograms are only useful for gamers, entertainment, hygiene and medical professionals.

Thank you for hearing my perspective on this topic.

Sincerely,

Ben"

That was incredible research Ben. We'll reach out to a few in our rolodex to see if we can add more to what you have found out. If anyone reading has more to add, send it along to feedback@blindbargains.com please.

Last Word:

As a follow up to last week's story about those two spindled boxes of joy...
A Global Shortage of Magnetic Tape Leaves Cassette Fans Reeling

And this week we thought we would point out one particular iPhone X launch tale.
Fake Apple Store Improv Everywhere

We're getting closer to the Black Friday episode. If you, or your business, would like to be a part of it... contact us feedback@blindbargains.com

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Joe Steinkamp is no stranger to the world of technology, having been a user of video magnification and blindness related electronic devices since 1979. Joe has worked in radio, retail management and Vocational Rehabilitation for blind and low vision individuals in Texas. He has been writing about the A.T. Industry for10 years and podcasting about it for nearly 5 years.


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