There are several tech-enabled tools out there that you can use to act as your visual guide or assistant. Some involve artificial intelligence; others use human assistance. We walked through several options and compared our experiences.
January 29, 2019
Tech It Out: Audio Identification and Visual Interpreter Services
Presented by Ricky Enger
Ricky Enger: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Tech it Out number four. I can't believe that we've had four of these episodes already. My name is Ricky Enger, and I am an assistive technology expert at Hadley. Let's start talking about the topic for this month, which is audio identification and visual interpreter services. Now, these are not necessarily phrases that we hear every day. Well, maybe you guys hear them every day. Maybe you have way cooler conversations than I do, but these are not things that often come out of people's mouths. So let's first start by defining what we mean by a visual interpreter service.
Essentially a visual interpreter service is someone who has access to visual information, can supply that visual information in an accessible way to the person who doesn't have access to that visual information. So for example, someone with eyes, and those eyes happen to work, can look at a shirt and describe that shirt to a blind person. So really kind of fancy phraseology for something that's really fairly simple. Visual interpreter service.
Now how about audio identification service, or audio identification technology? Is that going to be something really fancy and crazy? No, not really. It is a method by which you can access, for example, a label that might usually be printed and that printed label needs to be accessible in some other way. So perhaps audio. Why not? So that's where we have audio identification service and that's just one example of something like this.
So what I've done for this evening is now that we've kind of defined the terminology, I decided to give you guys a quick tour of my daily life. Or at least what could be my daily life on, I don't know, one day of the week. Some of it might be fictitious, but actually most of it is not except for this one guy's prescription that we talk about later. That's totally fictitious.
So what I do is take a walk through how I use these tools in my daily life and demonstrate kind of how they work. This is by no means an exhaustive coverage of all of the visual interpreter or audio identification services that are out there. That's why you guys are here. To ask question and to tell other people about the ones that you know about. But for now we'll jump right into this presentation showcasing some of them and then we'll open it up for questions and comments. So here we go with the prerecorded presentation.
Seeing AI is an app exclusively for IOS made by Microsoft. It has a number of functions including reading short texts, scanning a document, reading a barcode on a product, detecting color, describing a scene, and even light detection. Let's see how light detection works.
One of the really frustrating things about my house is that there are light switches everywhere but none of them are consistent. Like sometimes you might flip the switch up and the light turns off, which makes absolutely no sense. Or maybe it tries to turn on some non-existent ceiling fan. I don't know. The point is that often we need light to accomplish certain thing like making document reading easier or figuring out what color something is and we want to know if we do have light or if we are actually in the dark.
So Seeing AI has a really nice mode to assist with this called light detector. I have my Seeing AI app open. I'm going to use the picker to find the mode that I want.
Seeing AI: Document. Product. Person. Currency. Seeing preview. Color preview. Handwriting preview. Light.
Ricky Enger: Ah, there we are. We have this strange low tone that probably means something. In fact, this means that we are in a pretty dark room. So let's watch how this changes when I flip something that I hope to be an actual light switch.
Immediately the tone increases in pitch. Now I'm walking into the corner where the light isn't quite as bright. In here, the light is brighter. So it changes as I move around the room. This is useful not only to know if the light is on, but where the best light in the room is. Now, when we turn the switch again, we immediately drop back to the very low tone indicating that we're in a dark room.
Be My Eyes is a free app for IOS and Android. It brings a worldwide network of sighted volunteers together with blind users needing visual assistance. The connection is made through live video, allowing the blind user and sighted volunteer to work together to accomplish a task in real time.
I bought some really great hummus that I'm hoping to have for lunch, but the problem is I can't actually remember when I bought it. I think the safest thing for me to do would be to get the assistance of a human and find the expiration date before I do something silly. So I'm going to use Be My Eyes to call a volunteer that can help with this.
Seeing AI: Call first available volunteer button. End call button.
Kristen: Hi, this is Kristen.
Ricky Enger: Hi, good morning, Kristen. Have a quick task that I'm hoping you can assist me with. I have some really yummy hummus, but I can't remember when I bought it. So I'm hoping to find an expiration date on it.
Kristen: Definitely. Also, instant pot for the win.
Ricky Enger: Yes. One of my favorite gadgets.
Kristen: I think it might be on a different side than what I see.
Ricky Enger: Okay. So we'll move it there.
Kristen: I'm not seeing it there either.
Ricky Enger: All right. Let's try here.
Kristen: Can you slide your camera slightly to the left?
Ricky Enger: Sure.
Kristen: Thank you. Oh, there we go. So by February 7th, 2019.
Ricky Enger: Yay. I'm safe. I'm not going to experience anything horrible if I eat this. That is awesome.
Kristen: Well enjoy the hummus then.
Ricky Enger: Thanks so much for your help. Take care.
And there you go. I got quick assistance from a volunteer and I also got kudos for the wonderful instant pot in my kitchen.
The ID Mate Galaxy is a stand-alone handheld barcode scanner from En-Vision America. It has information on millions of items including instructions, ingredients, and more. While there are smartphone apps that can scan barcodes and provide information, this stand-alone solution tends to be much more easy to use and efficient.
It is definitely that time of year when noses get stuffy and you get all headachy and you might be coughing and sneezing and all that stuff that is just no fun. But for some reason, they make the DayQuil and NyQuil bottles look exactly alike and you don't wanna take one when you're really meant to take the other. So let's use our ID Mate handheld scanner to see which of these is which.
ID Mate Galaxy: Product is DayQuil cold and flu severe max strength.
Ricky Enger: Okay.
ID Mate Galaxy: Continue.
Ricky Enger: DayQuil, which means this is hopefully NyQuil and not something that looks similar.
ID Mate Galaxy: Product Vicks NyQuil cold and flu night time relief.
Ricky Enger: It is.
ID Mate Galaxy: Continue.
Ricky Enger: I wonder how much of this I can take, though. So I'm going to use my down arrow key on the device to see what is available for me to learn about it.
ID Mate Galaxy: Package size, eight fluid ounce. 236ml. Product description and other information. Each 30ml dose cup contains potassium 5ml, sodium 37ml. Store at room temperature. Miscellaneous. [inaudible].
Ricky Enger: [crosstalk] the ingredients.
ID Mate Galaxy: Instructions. Use only as directed. Use dose, couple of tablespoon. TBSP. Do not exceed four doses per 24 hours. Adults and children 12 years and over. 30ml two tablespoons every six hours. Children who are under 12 years, ask a doctor. Children under four years, do not use.
Ricky Enger: Great. So now I won't take the wrong medication that will make me sleepy during the day. You don't want that.
The ID Mate series of products is wonderful for scanning those products that are over the counter, but what happens when you have a medication that has been specifically prescribed for you? More importantly, what happens when you have a number of medications, each of which has different instructions and use bottles feel pretty much exactly alike? En-Vision America has a solution for that, too.
Script Talk allows you to work with participating pharmacists to get your prescription labels in large print, braille, or a label that can be scanned. At the time of this recording, you can use the hardware based Script Talk Station, but soon there will be an app for IOS and Android as well.
We don't want to scan a real prescription and give away some personal information, so here's a demo of the fictitious John Smith and his prescription.
Script Talk: Patient: John Smith. Medication: Amoxicillin 250ml capsules. Instructions: take one capsule three times a day by mouth. Prescription date: October 2nd, 2012. Refills remaining: 0. Prescriber: Dr. William Samuels. To reorder this prescription, dial area code 309-452-3088. Prescription number: 1234567. Warning: important finish off this medication unless directed by prescriber. This medicine may be taken with or without food. Other information: Quantity: 30 capsules.
Ricky Enger: Great. We've verified the light in our room, kept ourselves safe from bad food and taking the wrong medications. So now let's talk about photos.
BeSpecular is a free app for IOS and Android that allows a user to take a picture or upload one that's been previously taken and ask a question about that picture. Sighted volunteers are standing by to describe what they see. This app can be used for anything from verifying that you don't have a stain on your shirt to looking through old family photos and getting interesting descriptions of them. Let's see how it works.
My son likes to draw and lately he's been learning some new art techniques and he likes to send me pictures of things that he's drawn because he knows I can get them described. I'm going to use the BeSpecular app to upload his latest picture and see what he's drawn. So I'm in my BeSpecular app and I can either-
BeSpecular: Take a picture button.
Ricky Enger: Or-
BeSpecular: Upload picture from gallery button.
Ricky Enger: Which is what I want to do. I'm going to upload a picture from gallery.
BeSpecular: Upload picture from gallery button. Photos hit aim.
Ricky Enger: I will select the photo that I want to upload.
BeSpecular: Photo. Landscape. 10:49 AM image.
Ricky Enger: And there it is.
BeSpecular: Uploading picture. Please. Upload complete. Double tap and hold to record your question button.
Ricky Enger: So it took a moment to upload the picture and now we can ask a question about it.
BeSpecular: Type your question button.
Ricky Enger: I can either type it-
BeSpecular: Double tap and hold to record your question button.
Ricky Enger: Or I'm going to speak my question. Please describe this photo. Thanks.
BeSpecular: Send request. Yes. Sent button.
Ricky Enger: So I will choose that.
BeSpecular: Sending request menu button. Great. Waiting for replies. One person is replying.
Ricky Enger: Oh, good. Now we have someone who is replying to our request.
BeSpecular: One person replied. View reply button.
Ricky Enger: So let's see what they said.
BeSpecular: Play reply button.
Ricky Enger: So it looks like this person has recorded their description and we'll play it to see what they said.
BeSpecular: Play reply.
Speaker 8: A drawing of a box on black paper. The side facing the viewer doesn't appear to have a flap. It's open. The two sides, one's toward and one invisible on the shorter end of the box appear to have flaps. The inside of the box has been shaded.
Ricky Enger: All right, that's a pretty good description and we can actually rate this reply if we want.
BeSpecular: One star disappointing button. Two stars poor button. Three stars fair button. Four stars very good button. Five stars excellent button.
Ricky Enger: So we can rate that one and we have had some additional replies come in. So let's see what other perspectives are here.
BeSpecular: Next reply button. Play reply button.
Speaker 9: The picture is of a box. Looks like a moving box and it's a drawing and it's a 3D figure and you can see a shadow shading that they made on the picture. So on the inside of the picture they drew dark color to show that there is shade shadow inside as well as the flaps that are on the side of the box also have that shading to them. Hope this helps.
Ricky Enger: Excellent. Let's try one more.
BeSpecular: Next reply button. It is a drawing of a three dimensional box with the flaps open.
Ricky Enger: So this was a written description as opposed to the recorded description and with BeSpecular it's sometimes nice to get both.
There are those times when a quick photo description just isn't going to cut it and for that, there's Aira. Aira is a paid subscription based service connecting trained sighted agents with blind users requiring visual interpreter services. Through the use of a camera on a smartphone or the camera embedded inside a pair of glasses, agents receive a real time video feed of the users environment.
Aira: Calling Aira agent using phone camera. Connecting to agent. Connecting to agent. Connecting to agent McKata. Starting video. Please wait.
Ricky Enger: So as not to break Aira's terms of service, we won't be able to hear the actual call that took place. Still, it was a really good call and agent McKata and I discussed the lipstick I had just received in the mail. I first got a really good description of the color of the lipstick and then I asked for feedback on whether the dark lipstick would be too overwhelming for my fair skin tone. Turns out, it's a winner and I have a great new color to wear during an evening out.
WayAround is a system of programmable electronic tags that can be attached to objects used in conjunction with a smartphone that can write and read those tags. There are several varieties of tags including those that can attach to metal, those with adhesive backing, tags that can be sewn like buttons into clothing, and ones which can slip over a hanger. So how do they work?
I learned earlier from agent McKata that the new lipstick I just got in the mail is a nice dark reddish brown, but it looked very similar to other lipsticks that I have. At least in terms of what it feels like in the hand. So I wish I had some easy way to label this that would fit nicely on the lipstick. Turned out I do. I'm going to use a WayAround tag in conjunction with the WayAround app, I'll be able to create a tag that I place on the lipstick and later I'll be able to read it with my phone. So let's begin by creating it.
WayAround: Create button. Create WayTag. Hitting level one. Description. Hitting level two. Enter message you want written to the WayTag. Multi-line text field. Multi-line text field is editing. Dark reddish brown lipstick for evening.
Ricky Enger: Now I can add a couple of other things to this tag.
WayAround: Details. Hitting level two. Detail type, none. Pop up button.
Ricky Enger: I'll choose this.
WayAround: None. Pick [inaudible] adjustable. Clothing care. Groceries. Files. Cleaning supplies. Personal care.
Ricky Enger: That sounds about right, so I'll choose that.
WayAround: Done button. Done. When to use. Select pop up button.
Ricky Enger: I don't necessarily need to do anything with that.
WayAround: Instructions. Select pop up button.
Ricky Enger: Or that.
WayAround: Purchase date pop up button.
Ricky Enger: Or that.
WayAround: Use before pop up button. Other date pop up button. Out of field button.
Ricky Enger: So clearly there's a lot that can be written to this tag making it useful for labeling food, or medications, or clothing, or any number of other things.
WayAround: Right button.
Ricky Enger: I've done all I need to. So I'm going to write this information to my WayAround tag.
WayAround: Ready to scan WayAround. Success. WayTag written. Returning to WayAround.
Ricky Enger: Now I'll place this on the lipstick. The WayAround tag I'm using right now is round with an adhesive backing. There are also square ones. There are ones that you can sew into your clothing and you can buy any available WayAround tag as a single package or you can purchase a starter pack so that you get an idea of which ones you might be likely to use most frequently.
Now I'm ready to scan my WayAround tag just to see if everything went well and I can differentiate this lipstick from others that I have.
WayAround: Scanner ready. Press the read button below. Then hold the top part of your phone on the WayTag until you feel a double click.
Ricky Enger: So I'll do that.
WayAround: Read button. Alert. WayAround ready to scan. WayAround. Dark reddish brown lipstick. For evening.
Ricky Enger: And there's my label that I just created.
We've covered a lot of ground showcasing how both humans and machines can provide us with much needed visual information. So let's close this out with a bit of a showdown between the top two AI apps that are available right now. We have Seeing AI and InVision. Seeing AI is from Microsoft and it's free and available on IOS. InVision AI is an app with a paid subscription and is available on both IOS and Android. It also has more frequent updates than Seeing AI and sometimes adds new features. Let's take a quick look at what both these apps can do and then put them head to head with two tasks.
First, we have Seeing AI.
Seeing AI: Seeing AI. Seeing AI menu. Button. Channel. Short text. Adjustable.
Ricky Enger: Short text allowing for spot reading.
Seeing AI: Document.
Ricky Enger: Document allowing for reading a full document.
Seeing AI: Product.
Ricky Enger: This is a barcode scanner.
Seeing AI: Person.
Ricky Enger: This allows Seeing AI to be trained to recognize a particular person's face.
Seeing AI: Currency.
Ricky Enger: That's pretty self explanatory. You can recognize your money with that.
Seeing AI: Seen preview.
Ricky Enger: With this function, you take a picture of what's around you and then ask Seeing AI to describe what it sees. You can also submit a photo to Seeing AI to do a similar thing.
Seeing AI: Color preview. Brown.
Ricky Enger: Color preview tries to sample the color that it's pointing at and give you an idea of what it is.
Seeing AI: Handwriting preview. Light.
Ricky Enger: And that we looked at earlier. The light detector. Now let's take a look at InVision.
InVision AI: InVision. InVision.
Ricky Enger: First we'll start with a text tab.
InVision AI: Text tab. One of four. Magnifier button.
Ricky Enger: First we have a magnifier.
InVision AI: Start reading instantly button.
Ricky Enger: This is the equivalent of Seeing AI's short text feature.
InVision AI: Read handwritten text button.
Ricky Enger: You could read handwritten text.
InVision AI: Read documents button.
Ricky Enger: Or a full document, just like Seeing AI.
InVision AI: General tab two of four.
Ricky Enger: Now let's move to the general tab.
InVision AI: Describe scene button.
Ricky Enger: Just like Seeing AI, we can describe the scene.
InVision AI: Detect colors button.
Ricky Enger: We can detect colors.
InVision AI: Scan barcode button.
Ricky Enger: Or scan a barcode.
InVision AI: [inaudible] tab three of four.
Ricky Enger: And finally look at the scan and find tab.
InVision AI: Recognize custom objects button.
Ricky Enger: Recognize custom objects. We can actually train InVision AI to recognize a specific object that it may not have in it's database and then when we take a picture of that object, InVision AI will tell us what it is.
InVision AI: Recognize common objects button.
Ricky Enger: Recognize common objects. For example, a cat.
InVision AI: Cat. Cat.
Ricky Enger: Cat.
InVision AI: Teach InVision button.
Ricky Enger: And here's where we train InVision on those custom objects. So now that we've looked at the features of both these apps, let's see how they do on two different tasks. First we'll start with recognizing color. Here's Seeing AI and I will select the color channel.
Seeing AI: Channel. Handwriting preview. Color preview. Brown.
Ricky Enger: Okay.
Seeing AI: Brown and gray. Black and gray. Gray. Black and gray. Brown. Red.
Ricky Enger: So what we've just seen is my pointing Seeing AI at my shirt, which is purple, and instead Seeing AI says it's brown and gray. Following that we pointed Seeing AI at my couch, which is red and Seeing AI identified that correctly. Now let's see what InVision AI does.
InVision AI: Detect colors button.
Ricky Enger: First, my shirt.
InVision AI: Dark brownish-red. Dark gunmetal. Dark gray.
Ricky Enger: So not so much. How about the couch?
InVision AI: Parchment. Light beige. Light maroon. Dark peach. Salmon. Dark salmon. Black.
Ricky Enger: As you see, we've got a great deal of more feedback about the colors that InVision AI saw and this happened each time I made a minuet movement with my hand. Nevertheless, the color recognition wasn't particularly accurate. Finally, let's take a look at a scene.
Seeing AI: Seeing AI. Scene preview.
Ricky Enger: We select scene preview and now we're going to take a picture.
Seeing AI: Channel. Scene preview. Take picture button. Take picture. Channel. Processing. Probably a little girl smiling at the camera.
Ricky Enger: Oh. I'm not sure that I'm quite that young, but sure, why not? Let's see what InVision AI has to say.
InVision AI: Describe scene button.
Ricky Enger: And as soon as we press this button, InVision AI will take a picture.
InVision AI: Describe scene. Dimmed. Looks like a woman smiling for the camera.
Ricky Enger: Wow. I'm not a little girl this time, so it looks like InVision AI wins this round.
Okay, and that concludes our recording. There was a lot of information to take in there. By the way, there's gonna be a quiz, so I hope you remember every single app and every single thing it can do. First question, what is the name of the fake guy that had the prescription? Okay, I'm kidding. We are actually open for you to ask me questions. So I guess in that sense it is time for a quiz. Quick reminder that if you do want to ask a question, it's going to help if you raise your hands so I can call on all of you in some sort of order and we will go through as kind of a first hand raised, first served. And it looks like Kenny N, you are up. You may unmute yourself and ask your question.
Kenny N.: Yes. I'm Kenny and I was wondering in the Seeing AI app, I don't know if you didn't have it, but you didn't demo the handwriting part of the Seeing AI app. I was wondering if yours had that or-
Ricky Enger: It does and that's a good question. So there are three thing that both InVision and Seeing AI have that I chose not to demo. Not because they're not important, but because they take up a little more time as demonstrations. One of those, as Kenny mentioned, is the ability to actually read handwriting. This was, my son actually rejoiced when this happened because every Christmas, my mom sends us a Christmas card and her handwriting is notoriously bad and so it was always my son's job to read what grandma had sent on the Christmas card and he would have the hardest time deciphering what she meant and he would make up words or I think she meant this. And with Seeing AI and InVision AI, both of them do a remarkable job of recognizing even really poor handwriting. So that is amazing.
Additionally, as I mentioned, there is a short text feature where you can kind of point it at a box, or you can use it for junk mail is what I use it for a lot. Or sorting junk mail from good mail. Just getting that short description of what is said and then figuring out what to do from there. Then of course there is the document feature, which does read an entire document and just to note about this document feature, because I wish someone had told me this, I figured it out by trial and error, while these things are actually able to accomplish a lot even in very low lighting, I found that for some reason with the document feature, lighting is really important. Even if you just read the same thing with the short text feature and had no problem, when you switch to document and try to read something, you may get a no text recognized. So keep that in mind as you play with one or the other of these apps.
Great question, Kenny. So let's see who's next. We have 865 on the phone. You are next. Star 62, unmute yourself and go ahead with your question. That's 865. Going once. Going twice.
Ricky Enger: There you are. Yep.
865: Can you hear me?
Ricky Enger: Yep. 865, go ahead. Whichever one of you that is. Go ahead.
865: Yeah, I was gonna ask on the InVision, or when you take a picture of a face, like yourself or something, is there a way you can record the name? So it looks at you and will say your name automatically?
Ricky Enger: Right. So that is under the person channel for Seeing AI. You're able to do that. For InVision, I don't know that you can do that unless you specified yourself as a custom object. So recognizing common objects, InVision AI does. I think that if you tried doing yourself as a custom object, or whoever's face you wanted to train, that might work, but I haven't tried it so I can't say for certain.
865: And you can save it so next time you look at it, it will just tell you?
Ricky Enger: Right. So whatever you train in that custom object area, it will let you know what that is whenever you point at it. I just don't know if it works well enough to recognize specific faces.
Ricky Enger: It's certainly worth a try, though.
Ricky Enger: All right. We had someone else on the phone who spoke up and since we had two of you, I'd like the second one to go ahead. I'm not sure what your number was, but you were going to ask a question and then you muted. All right, we'll give that a try.
Speaker 15: Hi.
Ricky Enger: Oh, there you are. Go ahead.
Speaker 15: So my question is about WayAround. So do you know how much a WayAround tag is?
Ricky Enger: They were on sale during the holidays. I believe that currently a starter pack is $50, but please don't quote me on that. It's best to look at the site and see if that is in fact the case. The starter pack, I actually received as a Christmas gift and I'm super happy about it. It contains a sample of all of the available WayAround tags. So I wasn't sure which one I would want. So I kind of put off purchasing those and thankfully I got the starter pack as a Christmas gift and then finding that the adhesive ones, the metal ones, and the ones that slip over hangers have been the most useful for me personally. But you may have different results.
One other thing I will say about WayAround is that the customer service and the people that work with WayAround are really, really responsive and very, very friendly by e-mail. I haven't had the occasion to call them, but I suspect that the same thing would be true there as well.
Speaker 16: Can I say something here?
Ricky Enger: Go right ahead.
Speaker 16: WayAround tags, is on sale right now until February the 4th and the prices would go up.
Ricky Enger: Oh, great. That is awesome to know. Do you happen to remember the prices? Is that $39.95 for a starter pack?
Speaker 16: The starter pack I bought was $46 and I think it's going up to 60 something dollars.
Ricky Enger: Perfect. So at the time of this recording, for those of you who are listening on the archives, she just mentioned February 4th is when the sale is going to end, so you definitely want to run over there and grabs those 'cause they're incredibly useful.
Speaker 17: I've got one thing to say. Sorry, I interrupted there.
Ricky Enger: No, you're fine. Go right ahead.
Speaker 17: Yes. I was just gonna say I actually looked and they were 49 something for sale, but they'll go up to 62.
Ricky Enger: Awesome. That's perfect to know and I appreciate that. And again, WayAround tags, one of the kind of the newcomers on the scene but very very much worth it. We're going to move on to the next question now and that is unless we've got you already, that's 810 on the phone. Go ahead and unmute yourself and ask your question. 810. ... all right, we'll come back to you, 810. Let's move on to Kevin. Kevin who is on Kevin's iPhone. It's your turn. Go ahead and unmute yourself and let us know your question.
Kevin: Hello, can you hear me?
Ricky Enger: Yes sir.
Kevin: Okay, very good. Yeah, I was wondering a couple questions. Number one, what was the app that detected the light?
Ricky Enger: That was Seeing AI. It is available on the iPhone. So if you're an Android user, sorry about that. But it is available on the iPhone.
Kevin: What do you think is better, InVision or Seeing AI?
Ricky Enger: So my feeling about this is I hesitate to say that one is better and one is not so good. Each of them has things that they're really good at. My feeling about this is that InVision updates more frequently and it is a paid service, yes, but it's also a service that is continually working to do new things and as much as I do love Seeing AI, both because it's free and who doesn't like free, and because it is actually really, really good, I feel like there need to be multiple options in this space and so I've chosen to support InVision AI to make sure to kind of do my part in that services beyond just a single one will be available. So I do think that each of them has their place. I think that InVision can sometimes be better at reading text than Seeing AI. I think that Seeing AI can do barcodes a little better than InVision. So your mileage may vary, but they're both definitely worth checking out. All right, so on we go to 972 on the phone. It's your turn.
Ricky Enger: Yep.
Vinny: Hey, my name is Vinny. I've got a couple of questions for you regarding an app on the Android and just sitting at home, just watching TV. So I'll go with the watching TV question. When we go to movie theaters, we kind of use assistive technology to help describe the scene and things like that and a specific movie. Did they have anything like just to watch TV shows at home? Do they have any products that we could use?
Ricky Enger: I don't know of, and I definitely would like some input from the community on this one. I don't know of one that allows for watching TV with audio description at home. There is one which you can take to the theater with you and it syncs with the movie that you have. So you can actually have your headphones and your own phone and have the audio track for that audio description playing for you without even having to get an assistive listening device, or rather a audio description device from the theater.
The downside of this is that it only has a certain number of movies. Many of them are Disney. They're adding more all the time. But in terms of something for watching TV with audio descriptions specifically, can anyone speak to that?
Ricky Enger: Yep, go ahead.
Speaker 21: The only thing that I could think of is if they have a description via the cable or satellite which over the air they will provide either description programming but then you would have to know what program has the description [inaudible] or the other description on the television or mobile device.
Ricky Enger: Right. I did want to mention before I forget the name of the app that I just spoke about that you can watch a movie in the theater and have the audio track synced and playing from your phone. That app is called Actiview. That's A-C-T-I-V-I-E-W. So it is a free app and the way that it works is you select the movie that you're watching. It will sync with the audio when you're at the theater and so you're getting the description from your phone, in your own earphones. You're not wearing something that some user has previously had on their head, which is nice and it works perfectly.
Speaker 21: And that will also work at home after watching DVDs or non commercial movie.
Ricky Enger: Right. That's it. So you choose whether you are at home or at the theater. I suppose that there are different ways of syncing depending on where you are, but as long as the movie is available, you select where you are and it syncs right up.
Rachel: May I add to this?
Ricky Enger: Go right ahead.
Rachel: My name is Rachel. I'm from Michigan, and there are, Netflix has audio description on some of their content. It's a lot of the original shows but if you're looking for more like cable programming, there is an app, it's called Sero, S-E-R-O, and you can get a subscription for I believe $6 a month and they have a bunch of television shows old and new that you can listen to and they have audio description.
Michael Barber: Ricky, this is Michael Barber.
Ricky Enger: Yep.
Michael Barber: Here in Iowa, we have MediaCom and on our Tivo box, when you get kind of deep into the settings, you can turn on audio description and so then that way when you come across any program that's got video description tracks in it, then you'll be able to hear that automatically.
Ricky Enger: That makes sense and you bring up a really good point. It's actually an amazing time to be alive as a blind person and a blind person who enjoys watching TV because more and more there are TVs that not only will let you access audio description, but will actually speak their menus and we could probably have an entire discussion just on that, but it is worth noting that kind of gone are the days where your set top box or the TV itself was completely inaccessible if you had to do something within the menus. Now many of them do have actually they're generally running a version of Android and TalkBack and so they will speak to you as you navigate around the menus. Those things along with the Fire Stick and other TV type stuff are available and thank you Michael Barber and everyone else who's just given me an idea for a future session.
So with that, let's move on to the next person who has their hand raised and that its 386 on the phone.
Pam: Hi. I have two things. I'm Pam from Michigan and the first thing that I want to say is that we have a Bureau for the Blind people here in Michigan and if you get hooked up with them, they will purchase a lot of these things for you. So you don't have to spend your own money. You get so much money a year and they can buy a lot of the stuff for you, and then the other question was, could you just give me a list of the apps that you went through, 'cause I can't remember all of them?
Ricky Enger: Now I told you there would be a quiz. No, I'm kidding. So I can briefly give a list of the apps that we've gone through and I will also say that we have a lovely new page that is on our site. I can give you the URL. It's a little bit long but if you write it down or if you want to send me an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org I'll be happy to send you our new Tech It Out page and the reason I mention this is because as we post the episodes including their transcripts, so if you have people who are either deaf, blind, or just simply prefer to read the transcript rather than listen to the audio, we'll have those. We'll also have show notes that list all of the resources that were mentioned here.
So the things that I covered were Seeing AI, InVision AI, Aira, that's A-I-R-A, WayAround tags and BeSpecular. That's B-E and Specular, S-P-E-C-U-L-A-R, and I also covered some things from En-Vision America and this is a great time to mention that InVision AI is actually not created by En-Vision America. So they're two very different companies, both creating wonderful things. En-Vision America has Script Talk and you'll find a participating pharmacy to get involved with Script Talk so that you can have your accessible prescription labels. I believe that does cover everything that I went through in the presentation there. And again, if you want to know the lovely little page URL or for me to send you these resources, please send me an e-mail email@example.com and thanks for mentioning that. It's great to live in Michigan, I think. Moving on then to Marty. Marty had his hand raised and hopefully a question.
Ricky Enger: Yes.
Marty: I'm there. Okay. I just want to comment on Seeing AI. I use it to read short text stuff and I was at the Alliance Convention a couple weeks ago, in the hotel room, by myself, and I actually got to wash my hair with shampoo this time instead of body wash because I could read the bottles.
Ricky Enger: It's the little things, right? I remember having that very same experience and it was actually pretty empowering. I was like I don't have to drink decaf anymore. I could figure out which coffee is which. It was very nice. I think we might have lost Marty, so I apologize if you had additional comments that you wanted to make but I think you are muted now. I do appreciate that, though. The story, it's common to use apps like this to do things that many people would consider that's a minor thing but it really, truly is and it's very empowering.
All right, going next to 732 on the phone. I believe one person is unmuted who shouldn't be. We've got a lot of background noise. Wanna check and make sure that, great, that took care of it. So 732. 732 is next.
732: So I wanted to ask about the barcode reader. I've been using Seeing AI and I tell you, a lot of the time it tells me that there isn't the information that I'm asking for. That item is not [inaudible]. Or sometimes it just tells me, gives me wrong information. Like I was grocery shopping and looking for black cherry juice and the person helping me didn't speak English and I couldn't understand what they were saying so I tried to read it and with my Seeing AI, it said it was chocolate juice.
Ricky Enger: Oh no. I bet [crosstalk].
732: Sometimes it'll tell me it's an auto part. I was wondering, is there something, don't get me wrong 'cause I really like Seeing AI and I use that barcode thing all the time, but is there something that's more accurate that I can buy?
Ricky Enger: There is, as a matter of fact and that was actually going to be my point is that I feel like with the barcode scanners, as nice as it is to have a free app, and InVision AI does this as well, I am horrible at finding the barcodes. So it can sometimes take me two or three minutes just to find it, whereas with the ID Mate Galaxy scanner, that's made by En-Vision America. It's not cheap, but they do have payment plans and it is worth every penny for a couple of reasons. One, you can kind of be a little overzealous with it. You can just wave the scanner around and it will generally find the barcode whereas with the phone you have to be a little more precise and the other thing is it has millions of products in it's database and it has accurate information. So one of the best purchases I've made is an ID Mate Galaxy from En-Vision America. You can visit envisionamerica.com, take a look at what they do and again they do have payment plans and it's very much worth what you're going to pay. All right. Moving on next to-
Shawn Lee: Hey, Ricky.
Ricky Enger: Oh, yep. Yeah, go ahead.
Shawn Lee: Sorry for interrupting. I just saw, [inaudible] put here. This is Shawn Lee from Michigan as well. A lot of Michigan people here today.
Ricky Enger: Yeah.
Shawn Lee: Anyway, thank you for taking this question, [inaudible] answer. So anyway, I just want to share briefly what I do when I get in a sticky situation with barcodes. So I am not just a one app guy. I have multiple apps. So what I do, for example, is so I'm scanning. I need to know where that barcode is, and so what I usually do is I'll use Seeing AI to find out where the barcode is. Then I'll see okay, what does Seeing AI have to offer? Then, once I find that out, I know roughly because of the beeps, I know, oops, sorry, my phone stopped jabbering.
Anyway, I know roughly where the bar code is. Then I use an app called Digitize and that's a paid app for those of you who don't know. But I think when I bought it, it was about $15, I wanna say. $15 US, but that's well worth it because I have scanned things in the past and Seeing AI would give me some information, but then Digitize would give me tons, if not tons, a lot more information. So that is another alternative.
Ricky Enger: That's excellent. I remember Digitize was actually probably the first app in this space and I remember paying a hefty $29 when it came out, which was crazy for an app at the time. But it did amazing things and it kind of showed what really could be done with the iPhone, which was kind of in it's infancy, at least in the blind community at that time. So it's great to have more than one tool in the tool box. I appreciate that, Shawn.
Shawn Lee: Oh, no problem.
Ricky Enger: Next up, Gary Stein. Gary Stein, I believe you have a question. All right, I'm sorry about that Gary. I think we missed you this go around. Let's try Mike B. Mike B on his iPhone, you have a question.
Michael Barber: Can you hear me now?
Ricky Enger: Yes, there you go.
Michael Barber: I think I already said what I needed to say a little bit earlier, but thanks.
Ricky Enger: Not a problem. Let's try one more. Elizabeth. Elizabeth on your iPhone. Do you have a question?
Elizabeth: So I just wanted to say I love the Script Talk leader and the Seeing AI, I've used that one. All those things. And another thing for descriptive videos, [inaudible].com.
Ricky Enger: Yeah, you're right. I think they still do have. I know that they recently took down their movies but I believe they still do have TV shows there.
Speaker 29: You've have that backwards, Ricky.
Ricky Enger: Oh, oops.
Speaker 29: They took away their TV shows and they have their movies.
Ricky Enger: Glad I've got the educator to keep me straight. All right, we've got time for one more question. I always feel so bad when there are so many hands raised and there's only time for one more and Paula Mac, that's you.
Paula Mac: I have a question about using apps like Be My Eyes, or Aira. I wanted to know did you know of any way, of any particular iPhone case or mount that would hold the camera in place so that you could be hands free and not have the camera be whipping around. You know what I mean?
Ricky Enger: I know exactly what you mean and they're called lanyards, but I don't have a great recommendation for that. I know that if you subscribe to the Aira group in particular, this question comes up somewhat often and there are always great answers. People will send Amazon links directly to those cases. Some of which can flip around a little bit 'cause they're hanging around your neck and some of them are a little bit more stable. If anyone, super quick, does have a recommendation for an iPhone case that can be worn around the neck so that the camera is facing outward in the Be My Eyes or Aira agent can see the surroundings without your wearing glasses, 'cause you might not have those.
Speaker 29: [inaudible]. Sorry to interrupt. I know the Guiding Lights and Gadgets are very short. It sells one. It is in the drawer itself and it's an adjustable lanyard that goes from someone's waist all the way to their neck and it fits any size of a phone an SE to a plus and even the Verizon kit phone that they have now. Those are like, 15, 20 dollars.
Ricky Enger: Excellent.
Rachel: I have something to add.
Ricky Enger: Go ahead. Yep.
Rachel: So at our training center here in Michigan, they showed us how to build a, if you take one of those office supply things that have the three drawers and you only need it two or three high, but if you take those drawers out and you cut a hole kind of in the middle of it and you can put the iPhone camera there and put the piece of paper underneath it and that gives you, you just set your phone down and it can scan.
Ricky Enger: Ah, yes. And that's actually another thing that we could probably have a whole session on is scanning objects and things. Yeah, scanning stands. There definitely several of those. I appreciate that. Unfortunately, and I always hate to do this but we are at the 9:00 hour and that means I have to press the magic end meeting button soon.
Before we go, I want to first thank all of you for joining me. It is such a pleasure each month to be able to come together with the community and every single time, I learn something from you guys, so that's great, and I hope that each time you all learn something from me and each other as well.
A couple of kind of cool announcements. First, we, as I mentioned earlier are getting together the discussion groups page and the Tech It Out discussion groups are now on iTunes and also in Stitcher. You're also gonna find them in Google Podcasts, Spotify, various other places. So you should be able to get the past episodes just about anywhere and the second cool thing I want to mention is that Hadley Presents is going to be a new sort of event. It won't be live, but it will be chats with particular professionals in the field talking about things that hopefully you guys are interested in. We will be honored to have Jonathan Mosen from Aira as our first guest. We don't have a date just yet, but that'll give you guys something to look forward to.
Thank you again for joining me and I hope to see you once again next month. Until then, find us on Twitter and Facebook. We hare Hadley Institute in both those places. You can also contact me. I am firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and see you next month.