Thursday, April 30, 2015

New and Notables: CSUN 2015 Exhibit Hall


APPS, SOFTWARE & ACCESSORIES

CSUN is a treasure-trove of information and each year there are lots of goodies to be discovered.

Here are some products and resources sighted at this year's CSUN Exhibit Hall:

The hands down favorite find this year was:

Microsoft Sprout by HP
This software was on display for everyone to play with and I was floored at all the possibilities it could open up in an educational or special needs setting, not to mention it being coveted for home use i.e. for scrap booking, for organizing your tax receipts... oh my, I have a really hard time thinking of someone who would NOT think this would be a helpful tool.
The demonstration included an amazing 3D prototype not to mention existing capability to literally place any object down on the mat and have it pretty much instantaneously imported into the software program as an image, using dual (above/below)
document cameras.

Ah, the price tag... At $1,899 it's not cheap, but it is certainly comparable to other programs and devices many school districts are using, with many advantageous features. {Crossing fingers my school district will feel the same}

Microsoft is actively seeking educational and special needs-focused developers for this platform, so if that is you, seek them out.

More info on Microsoft Sprout HP here: http://www.cnet.com/products/hp-sprout/

iYoMube is an app for visually impaired users that reads aloud signs and written print in the environment using Apple's existing VoiceOver technology and camera feature.

I was sold after a demo- the app read aloud several signs more than 10 feet away, but have had trouble with the app on my iPhone 4 sadly.
(FYI this was demonstrated on a newer iPhone, with the latest iOS, and I think that is key- my old iPhone 4 did not perform well)

**I recommend waiting for a lite version of this app to be available in the App Store so potential users can try it out with their device and operating system first.** 
Developer Response: The App works best on iPhone 6 or 6+ for now because of its better camera focusing function.
                   
Here is the premise for how it should work- to use the app you must have VoiceOver feature enabled. You can use the app to "read" photos in your photo album, but even more impressive was live reading of whatever is in your viewfinder. To activate this feature open the app and swipe to the left until you get to the settings page, then choose ''navigation mode" to turn on the "Real Time Speech" (it is off by default).  There are also two modes you can switch in and out of by swiping left or right on the screen- Text mode, where all recognizable words are read at once, or Blocks mode, where each individual part of an image can be read by touching it. You can also choose to save images captured via the app to your photo album, or change the language to be recognized from one of five choices: English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (simplified) or Chinese (traditional).

I can't vouch whether this app will work for your device or not.  But we have come a long way, technology-wise, a long way indeed!



Also spied, were the tactile Parcheesi and checker sets from Altix Vision
seen at last year's CSUN event...the current sets available are upgraded models with high quality wood and even cooler! They were just being launched last year and basically were in prototype stage, but now they are definitely ready for purchase.

The sets have easy to grasp pieces that are easier to differentiate from one another, so those with visual impairments, as well as any other players, can enjoy!
The games are about $30 each, but do not include shipping.  They are currently seeking distributors in the U.S. so if that is you, you can contact them.

The sets can be ordered by sending a request to: adam.kalbarczyk@altix.pl




While doing further research on the above products, I also came across this web resource on how to offer assistance to people who have low vision or are blind:

http://valenciacollege.edu/osd/documents/BlindnessDraft.pdf

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Chat Wrap

This iPad case is clearly the object of my desire but at $499 out of reach for some of us. (There may be some confusion on the pricing I was quoted as SilverKite has the ChatWrap case listed at $395 here: https://store.silver-kite.com/product_info.php/products_id/552 ). The sound is very clear and loud, and the case is very sturdy while not adding an extreme amount of weight- it is lighter weight than a popular leading industry competitor that comes to mind. I would like to see a screen protector of some sort included as standard. There is a feature to easily add a lanyard too.  If you are successful with insurance reimbursement, or if more mainstream cases have failed to meet your needs, this would be a worthwhile investment indeed!

There were  also some companies from last year spied again:

 GoTalk Now and a suite of special needs apps and products from Attainment Company, speech and language therapy apps from Virtual Speech Center, Sono Flex and Tobii's eye tracking software (A previous favorite last year was eye tracking software from Sensory Software); Proloquo2Go (and newer 'sister' products Keedogo and Proloquo4Text) from Assistive Ware; L.A.M.P. Words for Life from PRC and Boardmaker from Mayer Johnson


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  1. Great place, wonderful food with modern ambiance and comfortable seating with plenty of room. It is now probably one of the best event halls in Philadelphia in my list. Perfect food, great decor and vibrant atmosphere.

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