Where Am I? GPS to the rescue!
This session was all about GPS apps to help you navigate your world. We discussed widely available options like Google Maps and Apple Maps as well as more specialized apps like BlindSquare, Lazarillo and Nearby Explorer, which were specifically designed for those with visual impairment.
May 28, 2019
Don't miss the next episode
Tech It Out: Where Am I? GPS to the Rescue!
Presented by Ricky Enger
May 28, 2019
Ricky Enger: Welcome everyone to Tech It Out for May. I'm so glad you all could join us.
My name is Ricky Enger, and I'm a learning expert in assistive technology at Hadley. And kind of my dream job, I actually get paid to talk about this technology stuff, which is super cool. I love it. There is actually quite a lot to talk about this month's topic, which happens to be navigation and GPS apps and tools.
So GPS, what is it, why do we care about it, what can it do? The kind of quick and boring answer is that GPS stands for Global Positioning System and can assist you in determining where you are. If that's all we cared about doing was figuring out where we are, that's a fairly simplistic thing to do. But sometimes, we care about more than just figuring out where we happen to be at any given time. We might want to know things like, what businesses are around me? How can I get from where I am right now to where I actually want to be? And if you've never used a GPS app or tool yourself, you've likely been in the presence of one. You might have been riding in someone's car and you hear the, "In 300 feet, turn left." And so the device is giving the person directions as they're driving from point A to point B. So that's a great example of kind of seeing GPS in action.
But, not only can we get from point A to point B, we can take a look at the things that are around us that we might not have been aware of. Think about how there are perhaps signs for businesses that are around you. There may be a big shopping center and it has one of those mall directory thingies kind of as a map of what's inside the shopping center. Those aren't necessarily going to be things that you are aware of if you're blind or low vision. So having the ability to say, "What are these things around me? What are these points of interest?" and that's how they're generally referred to in this GPS or navigation tools. That can be a really helpful and useful thing to have in the toolbox.
GPS can do some amazing things in terms of not just giving us directions in how to get somewhere in terms of, first you need to turn left on this street, and then you need to turn right coming up soon. There are some GPS tools that can actually provide this information in a different manner. It might give you compass directions. Or it might say, "The thing you're looking for is coming up at 2:00."
And so now you have an idea that you're heading for it but you don't want to quite go straight. You might be able to pinpoint it a little better with these clock directions. That sounds like an awful lot of things that you can do with these GPS and navigation tools. So why are there are so many of these things? Are there advantages and disadvantages? How does all of this work?
Let's start by talking about GPS or a navigation tool that is separate from a smartphone. So this is something that you might carry that its specific function is to be a navigation aid. It has no other reason for existing. Well, it might have a couple of other reasons, such as the case with the Victor Reader Trek from HumanWare because it can also read books to you. But the point is that in general, these things exist for a single purpose. So what's out there?
You've probably heard of Garmin GPS, maybe TomTom GPS. These are certainly available to the mainstream and they can give us some nice feedback if we're riding in a car where someone is using one of those tools. Unfortunately, though, they really can't be programmed accessibly. So you're kind of a passive participant if there's a Garmin or a TomTom nearby. You're hearing the directions that it's giving to your driver, but you haven't entered the destination. You can't look around for points of interest.
But I want to look around for points of interest. So what do I do? In that case, if I want something that is separate from my smartphone, I want to get one of these specialized GPS navigation aids, HumanWare is kind of the leader in this space. They originally created the Trekker. And this was quite some time back. And it was a device that looked a bit like a Victor Reader Stream if you've seen one of those. But it also had an external GPS receiver. So you had to carry two devices with you. But it was super handy, because you could do all of these things like program in an address and get directions from point A to point B. You could have it announce points of interest along the way and so on.
So technology got a little better and HumanWare had a couple more iterations, the Trekker Breeze, which I know some people do still own, was one such device for this. The Trekker Breeze is still supported by HumanWare but it isn't made anymore or it isn't actively sold. So it exists and if you have one, you're still good. But you wouldn't actually purchase one of these. You would instead purchase the Victor Reader Trek, which is the latest in this series.
This combines a Victor Reader Stream, where you can read books, listen to Internet radio stations, podcasts. You could actually download an archive of this particular presentation on the Victor Reader Trek or Stream, and again, it has all of these GPS options built into it such that you can figure out where you are, you can program in where you want to go and get directions for that, and you can also take a look at what's around you.
Those are pretty cool features. And an advantage to this type of device, whether it's the Victor Reader Trek or whether you own a HumanWare BrailleNote and you're using the BrailleNote GPS software. The advantage is that unlike a smartphone where you have a touch screen and it can sometimes be challenging to operate that with one hand and flick and find the button that you're looking for, you actually have some tactile input on a device that is dedicated specifically to this purpose. So that's kind of the advantage of having something like the Victor Reader Trek. The disadvantage is that you're purchasing a specific device that isn't your smartphone. So you may be paying more for GPS than you would if you were using GPS apps.
So let's talk about GPS apps. The two most popular operating systems obviously are IOS and Android. We've kind of given up on Windows Mobile and Symbian and all of these crazy things. So the question is, what's available for the phone OS that I'm using? A lot of people like Android, not only because it has taken tremendous strides in accessibility, but because there tend to be cheaper Android options available. Sometimes you can actually get a free phone when you sign up for a contract. And that's really attractive. So we want something that's going to work on an Android phone. We actually have a few different options, some of which are free and some of which are not.
There is one that's incredibly popular, and it was actually mentioned by three different people who attend these discussions. And I was really happy to actually get input from the audience beforehand on what people are using on Android. So this app is called, GetThere, and it's free. GetThere is all one word. And with this app, you're not only able to do things like tell where you are, search for points of interest and get some announcements along the way, but it will even offer the ability to describe a strangely shaped intersection. Sometimes you have an intersection where it's offset or maybe you have a median and you don't know about that. You can get additional information about the intersection that you're approaching with this app, which is super cool.
Lazarillo is another option. And this is for both Android and iOS. It's also free, which is really what I like to hear, especially if I'm just learning about what GPS can do. It offers many of the same functions as GetThere. And so for these free options, there's really no reason not to have multiple options.
One thing I haven't mentioned and one reason that it's great to have multiple options, is that some GPS apps or tools are better at certain things than others. For example, AroundMe is an app which is available for iOS and Android. Really, its only function is to tell you what's around you. It's not going to guide you from point A to point B. It's not going to allow you to virtually explore an area before you get to it as some of these tools do. But it's great at telling you what's around you. And that's a nice tool to have in the toolbox.
So as I'm mentioning all of these, be aware that number one, they can be found in the show notes so you can check out Hadley.edu/techitout. And once this episode is posted, we'll have links to all these things in the show notes. So number one, you'll find all those things in the show notes. And number two, there's no need to choose a single option and stick with it especially if there are multiple free or low cost options there for you.
So Nearby Explorer is another option for both Android and iOS. This one has, I believe it still has a free version called, Nearby Explorer Online, and there's a paid version as well. This is one of the more complex apps. It does have a number of really great features. It also has a bit of a learning curve. So if you open it up initially and you say, "What am I doing?" take a look at the help. Just explore the app itself and see all of the things that you can do with it because it is incredibly useful if you take the time to figure out what's available to you and all of the neat things that you can do with Nearby Explorer.
This was initially created by The American Printing House for the Blind. And they have recently kind of created a new organization that is going to be specifically concentrating on Nearby Explorer. So you'll see some improvements to that in the future and perhaps a redesign or some additional features. I don't know, I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do.
Seeing Eye GPS is an example for iOS, not for Android. It too is a paid option, which has recently been purchased by another company. This was originally the software used in the HumanWare BrailleNote GPS. It later became a subscription based service called Seeing Eye GPS, not to be confused with Seeing AI because I've done this before. And it is still available as a subscription model. It's been purchased by another company, Aira, and looking forward to seeing what they do with that.
There's kind of a newcomer on the scene and it's called Seeing Assistant. This comes out of Poland. And there's a free version called Move Lite. And then there's a paid version. And it's recommended, that hey check out the free version, see what it is that you like, what can you do? Is this something that I want or do I want to pay for it or maybe not?
Just a couple more options to mention here and then I really want to open it up for the community. Because what we've done here is we've talked about a lot of options, but not necessarily what each of them does, what tools you guys are looking for, what things do you care about when you're looking for a GPS app or tool. And so during the discussion, we can kind of narrow some of those things down.
Before we do that though again, I want to cover a couple of other options. One is unfortunately not available for Android just yet, and that is BlindSquare. This is one of my favorite GPS apps for iOS. The reason for that is it will allow you to get directions kind of from point A to point B. But that's not what it's great at. What it's really great at is allowing you to virtually explore an area before you go there, so you can search for an address that you're going to visit and once that is in there, you can kind of look around virtually. You can say, "I want to explore this virtually," rather than, "This is where I am."
And then you can see the things that are around you. I was recently able to use this when my son and I were going to lunch. And afterward we planned to get his bank account set up. So I went to the Wells Fargo locator and found one that was near me but not near the restaurant that we were going to and thought, "Well, you know, we'll just come back this way and stop at the bank on the way home."
Turns out though, that when I did a virtual exploration with BlindSquare, I was able to determine that there was a bank branch well within walking distance, like literally in the same parking lot as the restaurant we were going to. And without this particular GPS app, I wouldn't have known that. So that came in very handy. Not only can we do this virtual exploration, not only can we be in a place and see what's around us with BlindSquare, we can say, "I'm here, I'd like to go and find this other place nearby."
BlindSquare will give clock directions as you're approaching it. If you're tracking a particular place, it may say, "Bank is 400 feet at 1:00." And so if you get off track a little bit and notice that somehow now it said, "7:00," and it's getting further away, that can be very helpful, especially because when you're walking somewhere and you're basically on the right street, now the challenge becomes, well I've got to find the door, I have to find the building, it's here somewhere. And so having a tool that can give you kind of this, you're getting warmer, you're getting colder, approach is really, really helpful.
In BlindSquare, you can also, if you have found a place, you can call an Uber to get there or if you're already nearby or whatever or you're just looking at information about this place, you can for example, look at the restaurant menu right inside the app if it's available. So BlindSquare and a few of these other tools will do far more than just giving you navigation information.
And that brings us to our mainstream options such as Apple Maps and Google Maps. I have to say that I actually much prefer Google Maps and there are a number of reasons for that, some of which are the accuracy of Google Maps tends to be a little better than Apple Maps. And the things that you can do within Google Maps, which by the way is available for both iOS and Android, so you don't have to say, "Well, I don't have an Android phone, so I can't use Google Maps."
Nope. It's available on iOS as well. You can find a place that you're looking for and then you are able to not only look at a menu if it's a restaurant, and that's available, you can look at reviews that people have left. So perhaps you're curious about a new movie theater, and you want to see the reviews. And people say, "Oh the sound quality is horrible," you can find that right in Google Maps. So now you have this tool that not only could give you directions to get to the movie theater, whether you are walking or driving or taking public transportation, but it can tell you what other users have had to say about this particular place.
So a ton of information available on GPS. And thankfully, a lot of tools out there as well. I can remember a time when kind of the only thing that existed was some commercial tools such as Navigon, which is owned by Garmin, and TomTom. Neither of those things were designed with the blind in mind. I know I've heard that phrase a lot before, it's very poetic, but also can be very helpful when things are designed with the blind in mind, because when they aren't you can run into some accessibility issues. If you are just looking to get where you're going, it can really add an extra layer of challenge to then try and figure out inaccessibility of the app as well.
So having been a person who bought some of these first GPS apps even knowing that they weren't fully accessible, I'm really excited to see how far we've come and just how many tools are available both as standalone options and as smartphone apps.
So we will now take our first question from Jerry Hogan.
Jerry Hogan: Can you hear me?
Ricky Enger: Yep.
Jerry Hogan: Good. I travel every other year to Europe and I've tried Germany and a few other countries but I mainly go to Romania. My daughter lives there, my step daughter, and my wife's family. I go and I use Seeing Eye GPS. There's a new map. I use BlindSquare, Apple, and they all work very well, Around Me, in those countries. I never thought they would not work that well, but they're getting better every couple years. They're really improving. But I'm using a new app called Waze. I think it's Waze.
Ricky Enger: Yep, that's W-A-Z-E.
Jerry Hogan: Yeah. And that's a Google Map. I got to tell you, I'm very impressed with that. It's fairly easy to use. I have it set up so when I ask Apple, my iPhone to open map, it opens up instead of the Apple Map it will open up Waze. It may not tell you the street name, like Wall Street, like Seeing AI and Nearby and BlindSquare will do, but it will tell you how far you've got to go to get to that destination. It's very, very good.
What I'd like to know, Move Lite app. You said that comes from Europe. Does it have language like Romanian and other languages too. I'm trying to help some people over there.
Ricky Enger: The only one I'm familiar with that comes from Europe is called Seeing Assistant. And it comes from Poland. And I believe there are multiple languages for that. So Seeing Assistant Move is what you'll search for and its Move Lite is the free version of that. And Seeing Assistant Move is the one that you can purchase. So you can check that out for free and check to see which languages that's available in.
I also wanted to say that Waze is a perfect example of thinking about what you want to use a tool for and then choosing the right one for it. The cool thing about Waze is not so much about giving you walking directions to where you're going but let's say you're kind of being copilot in a car and you're hoping to find the best route for the person that you're co-piloting for, Waze will take you around traffic. It will warn you about things that are actually happening that can delay your route. And so it's going to give you the fastest route to get where you're going and that's [crosstalk 00:29:59].
Jerry Hogan: It did tell me there was an accident ahead.
Ricky Enger: Right. Exactly.
Jerry Hogan: Stuff like that. It's a free version, and it worked excellent.
Ricky Enger: Yes. Great stuff.
Jerry Hogan: Can you spell that again for me?
Ricky Enger: It's Move, M-O-V-E, Lite, L-I-T-E. And again you can check out the show notes as well. So that's Seeing Assistant Move Lite. And next up, we've got Jane Za.
Jane Za: Hi.
Ricky Enger: Hello.
Jane Za: For me, I am a recent [inaudible] graduate. For me, what I use in-
Jerry Hogan: Seeing Assistant Move Lite.
Jane Za: ... go to a college campus.
Jane Za: And you need to find various buildings and things like that. Nearby Explorer, it happens to have the favorites feature, where you can label your own favorites, which definitely helps when you are switching for a ton of-
Ricky Enger: For sure.
Jane Za: And also in Google Maps, if you are international, there are languages available so that other people can understand in their language instead of in English.
Ricky Enger: Excellent. Thank you so much. And the favorites feature, that exists on a couple of different things. It brings to mind one tool that I didn't mention only because it doesn't quite fit with the others. But saying favorites reminded me of this and that tool is Microsoft Soundscape. The interesting thing about Soundscape is that it is kind of meant to be provide a 3D soundscape of your environment and tell you about things that are near to you in a way that you not only hear the words, such and such is nearby, but you can actually get a beacon off to your left or a beacon off to your right, giving you an idea of where that location actually is.
But the coolest thing about Soundscape and, to me one of the most useful, is that you can use it to mark things that aren't going to be picked up by GPS, right? So one of the biggest challenges, at least for me, is not so much finding the general area of where something is, but okay, now where's the door? Or, now, where are the steps leading down to whatever? I'm in a giant parking lot, at what point do I angle off to the left so that I can get to this next destination? This is where Soundscapes can really come in handy because you can set your own beacon and have that be a thing which is tracked. And now you're not just depending on GPS, which can only give you so much, but you are essentially dropping your own breadcrumbs that can assist you in locating something.
Jane Za: Wow. Now, I need to try that.
Ricky Enger: Yeah. It's super cool. And it's free. Microsoft Soundscape.
Let's go next then to the phone. We'll start with 757.
Speaker 4: Okay. So my thing is, I have to bring up a couple of things. One is I had gotten left by a bus driver or a Handi-Ride driver at my neighbor's home. And I've got to tell you, I had called this ... "They need to come and get me because they just left me in the wrong place." And I was like, "I'm not waiting here in the rain like this."
I went and I used my Apple Maps to get me back home because I was like five homes down. Without that, I would've had to call home. So I am very thankful.
Ricky Enger: Absolutely.
Speaker 4: And another thing I wanted to bring up is I use an assortment of things. I use Map Quest. I just started using Map Quest. And I use Apple Maps and I use Google Maps. And I use Waze on occasion.
Ricky Enger: And they're all awesome tools to have in the toolbox. Even in addition to the GPS and navigation tools that we've mentioned here, sometimes it's useful to have a person on the other end looking at video of where you are. And I was just thinking in the case of being close to your home but not quite there, you were thankfully able to get there using the tools that you had.
We haven't talked about, because it is something of a separate conversation, but it's worth mentioning, at least briefly, things like Be My Eyes, which is a free volunteer run application where you can connect to a person on the other end and ask a question and perhaps have them look at the number on the curb to determine where you are and watch as you get back to where you're hoping to be. Aira is a similar thing which can again read signs as you're passing them and so on.
And so it's a navigation aid not so much for GPS, but in the sense that you might have someone describing a strange intersection to you or you might have someone looking at that map in the shopping center or especially inside a mall where GPS doesn't always work indoors. And you're able to get to where you're hoping to go with the assistance of someone over a video feed. So that's another tool available as well.
Let's go then to Gold Heart, you're next. All right, Gold Heart, you can-
Speaker 5: Yep. I'm here.
Ricky Enger: I figured you were.
Speaker 5: I've used all the apps, not all the apps, but for the iOS in the Seeing Eye, the Nearby Explorer, Apple and Google Maps and also like you just commented, I also use Be My Eyes for orientation, if I'm going to this place and say they have doors but they're blended in to the building where you really can't visually see it, well at least I can't visually see it properly, and so I'll use Be My Eyes to orientate me to the door of different places. So that's pretty handy. I even got a lanyard to kind of put the phone in and be able to use it hands free.
Ricky Enger: That's a great tool to mention, talking about either using it with Be My Eyes or Aira. So what happens is that you have your phone kind of hanging around your neck so that you're using this hands-free. And the camera is still uncovered so that the person on the other end of the video can still get a nice view of where you are. This can also be useful for other GPS apps. Like Soundscape specifically. I'm thinking of, when you're using Soundscape, it is kind of depending on your having your phone app and in your hand because it's using both the compass and a couple of other things within the phone to kind of determine where you are and what direction things are. So having your phone around your neck and then just being able to pick it up when you need it, makes it a lot easier.
Speaker 5: I also use a nice pair of Bluetooth headphones because Soundscape will give you orientation based on if it's on the left or the right.
Ricky Enger: That's it.
Speaker 5: And it will come in the left or right speaker.
Ricky Enger: And this too is a great point, Bluetooth headphones. There are a couple of different options for, how do you hear what your GPS is telling you? Sometimes you don't need both a left and a right side. In the case of Soundscape, it's extremely helpful. Sometimes, you might just want to have one ear bud in or sometimes you really do want to not have anything on your head. And so you might actually have a Bluetooth speaker strapped to your wrist. So there are a ton of different options for safely hearing what you need to hear from these apps while you're traveling.
My personal favorite is the AfterShokz. These are bone conduction headphones, so they don't actually fit in your ears. They kind of rest on your jaw bone or cheek bone and they transmit sound that way rather than obstructing your ears. But there are a number of options. Some people like the Apple AirPods and they just keep one of them in. Some people like just a standard set of ear buds and they keep one of them in or both of them in depending on how much they want or need to hear the environment. So those are some things to consider when taking your GPS tools out for a spin.
Next we have Kevin's iPhone with a question. It's probably Kevin, maybe his iPhone has a question or maybe just Kevin does, we'll see.
Kevin: All right. Am I being heard?
Ricky Enger: Yep, there you are.
Kevin: The headphones weren't working. Okay, no problem. Sorry about the delay.
Ricky Enger: No worries.
Kevin: So I live in kind of a sprawling apartment complex with multiple clubhouses and multiple pools and things like this that I need to be able to get to. Obviously, those won't be picked up by GPS. What do you think is the best breadcrumb beacon app? Is it going to be Microsoft, or is it better to create places in Foursquare so that BlindSquare can pick it up? What do you think is the most effective, because I definitely get overwhelmed by... I've got four or five of these things on here. It's like, which one do you use? I want to be able to drop some breadcrumbs at these different places.
Ricky Enger: My vote would be for Soundscape. I think that's kind of designed perfectly for what you want, because not only can you drop your breadcrumbs, you can get really nice spatial sound feedback as to how close you are to that, whereas something like making Foursquare places in BlindSquare is definitely an approach you can take, but depending on how close these items are to each other and how accurate GPS is being that day, you may actually be a little off. Whereas with Soundscape and kind of a beacon, you're probably going to be more on target. That's my thought.
Kevin: Okay, perfect. Thank you very much. And excuse the background noise, while I mute the phone.
Ricky Enger: It's all good.
Speaker 7: [inaudible 00:43:34].
Ricky Enger: Oh yeah, go ahead.
Speaker 7: Actually, that's why I was raising my hand to your answer, Ricky.
Ricky Enger: Sure, go ahead.
Speaker 7: I found this when I worked with students inmobility or when I go to a different site. BlindSquare or even now Lazarillo, which is a free version of BlindSquare, you can actually create beacons within those two apps, and you can use those to find ... without creating Foursquare locations there.
Ricky Enger: Oh, does BlindSquare have beacon support now?
Speaker 7: Yeah, you can actually create beacons or landmarks where you can mark the spot that you want and then you can just add to find your way back to that. You've been able to do that for a while without going into Foursquare.
I was also going to say carrying with the lanyard experience, you could also use Clew. With their new version, you can actually create routes with multiple bookmarks that you can find your way back to each one. You sync to a camera of the phone.
Ricky Enger: And what's this app again?
Speaker 7: Clew.
Ricky Enger: I'm not familiar with that one.
Speaker 7: It's C-L-E-W.
Ricky Enger: Okay, and do you know if it's available for both Android and iOS?
Speaker 7: Clew is just Apple, is just iPhones. And Lazarillo is both for-
Ricky Enger: For Android and iPhone.
Speaker 7: ... Apple and Android.
Ricky Enger: Yep. Awesome, thank you. All right. We have Lillian's iPhone up next with a question. All right, Lillian, I can unmute you if you like. We'll try that. There you go.
Lillian: Okay, yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I couldn't find the unmute thing.
Ricky Enger: No worries.
Lillian: So, I'm using an app, so it's hard. I wanted to bring up that I agree with you on the Waze first of all. My mom thinks that's awesome and she's actually sighted. And then actually on your question about BlindSquare using beacon support, yes it does. There is an app called BlindSquare Events. So you download it, it's free. And you download it and I don't know if it's available for Android, but I know for sure you can use it with iOS devices. And, you download it and like I said, it's free.
Basically any type of beacons where you're walking whether it's in a building or walking across the street to the other side of a building, something, anywhere that has beacon support, where it can access your location and everything, it will tell you what's there and everything. So it's called BlindSquare Events, BlindSquare one word like normal and then Event.
Ricky Enger: Right.
Lillian: And you download the app, voiceover will say BlindSQ Event. It's abbreviated SQ.
Ricky Enger: Ah, okay. Great. Thank you so much.
Lillian: No problem.
Ricky Enger: Let's go next to Sharon. Sharon Ide, Ede. I apologize if I've pronounced your name-
Ricky Enger: Yep, there you are.
Sharon: Oh, super. I just got a question. It's kind of unusual I think. I really have learned a lot of good stuff here tonight. But I'm wondering if they have any navigation tools for kayaking or canoeing?
Ricky Enger: That's one that I will certainly throw to the community because I don't know of any, but I'd be surprised if you're the only one who wants to know. Does anyone have thoughts on that?
Wow, that's too bad. So it appears, no.
Speaker 7: Sorry, I missed the question. What was the question?
Ricky Enger: She's wondering about navigation for doing things like kayaking or canoeing, so you're in the midst of waterways and things. I love that question. So I think for now, the answer is we don't yet have an answer. But if you could, send me your contact information and for anyone who has questions that don't get asked here, send to Enger, E-N-G-E-R at Hadley.edu. And for those who are listening to the archive, you may very well get an answer a bit later. That's the really cool thing about having not only live participation but the ability to check out the archive as well, because some people who couldn't attend may very well have a great answer to this.
Speaker 7: The only solution I may have, but it's away from the phones, is using the Victor Reader Trek, since that uses sort of not cell towers. It does have free land where you can do marks, where you're not on a grid.
Ricky Enger: Yeah, like breadcrumbs.
Speaker 7: Yeah.
Ricky Enger: It's an interesting thought. Thanks for the question. Hopefully, we can get even more answers from the archive. We're going to go next to Milton Oda with a question.
Milton Oda: Yes. The question is, at one time, there was this one standalone GPS that was made in Europe called the Captain. Is that still available?
Ricky Enger: That's a great question. I know that as of two years ago, it was. I don't know if that's still being actively sold. It was basically meant to be an incredibly simplistic but feature rich GPS standalone device. I've not heard anything about it in ages. Can anyone say if the Captain is still being supported?
Yet again, a great question that we don't entirely have an answer to. Again, for those who have questions that don't necessarily get answers right away, please send me your contact information and as information does come in, I'm happy to send you the better late than never answer, whenever we get that.
Ricky Enger: All right, lots of fun questions. I'm going to find the list here. Let's go to 909 on the phone. 909 on the phone.
Elvia: Is that me, Elvia?
Ricky Enger: I believe that might be you.
Elvia: Yes, hi. I'm brand new for GPS. I've been trying it for the last couple of weekends. I really would like to know what would be the best GPS for a newbie like me? I'm very green, I'm being honest. The only GPS apps I've ever used in my whole entire life is when we're in the vehicle and I just ask Siri, get driving directions to wherever, and she just says, "I'll start driving directions," and she just goes.
But that's when we're in the car. I've never, ever, ever used GPS for walking, and I do a lot of walking in my neighborhood. I'm new here, and I don't know my area. And I want to know. I have tried, I will be honest, I was given advice to try, what do they call it, the Nearby Explorer Online, because I have unlimited data. I downloaded it but honestly, it is very confusing because I'm not used to it.
Ricky Enger: It's a little much for a newbie, yeah.
Elvia: What I'm looking for, for me particularly, and I'm going to put on my recorder so I can get instructions to do what I need to do. What I'm looking for is an app that will give me, turn left, turn right, that kind of directions, and if I can use more than one app in combination, that will work in the background so I can create landmarks so I know when I arrived, I can create something that will set it, then I wouldn't have to be worried about it when I go there next time.
Ricky Enger: Right.
Elvia: And also, I'm looking to see if there are podcasts or tutorials that will show us, the blind person, especially me, I'm very green, how to use it step by step to create yourself with an app, whether it would be, I don't know whatever you would recommend for a newbie like me from start to finish. And that would be my question.
Ricky Enger: I think that for the best free app, I'm going to say, L-A-Z-A-R-I-L-L-O is a really great place to start because it is free. It is designed to be not super complex and to kind of give you the directions that you would like. If you are willing to pay a little more, Seeing Eye, so that's Seeing and then E-Y-E GPS, and I believe it's $5.99 for a month. So you could try it out for a month, just see how you like it, see if that's going to work well for you, and then either choose to continue paying for it or not. It's a nicely designed app as well that's not going to overwhelm you too much but it does have a lot of the features so it kind of grows with you.
So those are the two apps I would recommend. I don't immediately have an idea about kind of podcasts tutorials for where you might go to just listen to something about these apps. I will have a look so again if you'd like to send me contact information, E-N-G-E-R at Hadley.edu, we'll see what we can do.
We have time for just a few more. So let's go to 817 on the phones. 817.
Speaker 12: Hello.
Ricky Enger: Hello.
Speaker 12: This is my first time and this is [inaudible] all of these wonderful things. I had a couple of questions.
Ricky Enger: All right.
Speaker 12: I guess the iOS that you're talking about would be like the iPhone and the iPad?
Ricky Enger: That's correct.
Speaker 12: A couple of questions that have come up have kind of been similar to what I'm wondering. I used to, when I had slightly better vision, I had a scooter that I would run down to the corner and down the block to the post office. So I would try to go to the grocery store that's about a mile and a half away. Well, I no longer see well enough to do that. I'm wondering if any of these apps, I'm wondering if they would work fast enough for me to essentially go along with my scooter?
Ricky Enger: That's a great question. The answer is that you might have to, excuse me, you might have to experiment a little. I know that some of the apps will allow you to basically define what your mode of transit is. So you can say a car, you can say walking and bicycle would probably be the more likely one in this case. The reason that you would define what your mode of transit is is so that you could get better directions. For example, in a car or walking, it might be a very different route. But also so that it can give you how long is it going to take me to get there? And how quickly do I need to be updating my GPS position? That is important.
But I don't know, at least from my own experience, which ones might be fast enough to do that. I know that Google Maps allows you to change your mode of transport. I don't think some of the others like BlindSquare necessarily do. But open to thoughts if anyone has them.
Yeah, so it looks like this is another one that you would kind of need to experiment with. And I think again, Google Maps would be the best approach to start with since you can define what you're using.
Speaker 7: Does she want to switch while in transit during the route or just going from route-
Ricky Enger: No, just something that's keeping up with where she is so that it's telling her to turn left in 10 feet when it really is 10 feet given what her speed is kind of thing.
Speaker 7: I know Seeing Eye GPS, once it detected the speed, it will justify the directions on how fast it wants to turn and so will Nearby Explorer. I haven't tried the [inaudible], but the ones for the blind tend to do that.
Ricky Enger: So there's a vote for Seeing Eye GPS and Nearby Explorer, awesome.
All right, we have time for one more question. So that's going to be you, Eileen.
Eileen: I use BlindSquare a lot but I'm trying to figure out why a lot of the times it will tell me that I have something at 11:00. When I'm walking along, a point of interest will be at 11:00 when it's actually at 4:00 completely opposite side of the street and such.
Ricky Enger: Oh, wow.
Eileen: I'm just trying to understand, am I holding my phone wrong or what am I doing wrong to cause that to happen?
Ricky Enger: When I'm using BlindSquare, I generally try to hold the phone straight in that it's not horizontal, so it's kind of vertically straight and keep it that way. But one thing that can happen is that the actual marker for the address is placed in a weird place. So the GPS marker may be pointing behind the building, even though the door that you're actually looking at is really at 11:00. And so, sometimes that can be incredibly accurate and sometimes it can be really frustrating. I've not found a way around this.
I do know that I've enjoyed being in a car and we weren't able to see the door and thankfully BlindSquare had it marked appropriately kind of where the door was. And so we were able to tell the driver, "Oh, a little more this way," and finally get there.
So I think it's one of those things that if it is always inconsistent, that's a problem, but if sometimes it is and usually it isn't, it may very well just be where that marker has been set to indicate this address. So it's nothing that you're doing wrong, it's just that GPS is not always entirely perfect. And so what you're seeing is kind of that manifesting itself.
Ricky Enger: Yeah, no problem. It looks like we have reached the end of today's discussion. And I know I learned a lot. I hope that you all did as well.
Pam Drake: Excuse me. I hate to butt in. I hate to interrupt. I recall, this is Pam Drake, and I don't want to ... I was hearing, I believe it was on a podcast or I forget what, maybe it was even in an email, but I think it was a podcast. But I have heard for a few instances that the Captain is no longer being manufactured. And that was recently.
Ricky Enger: Oh, thank you so much. Okay, awesome. We've got an answer to that. So no more Captain unfortunately.
Speaker 15: Okay. I'm so sorry guys. I've got one more thing I'd like to bring up. You were speaking about the headphones, the Bluetooth headsets. I've got one that I really like. It's from the Harbolt Company. It's a two-in-one around the neck Bluetooth stereo headset/speaker. So you can use the speaker for navigation if you want to.
Ricky Enger: Yeah, that's great. And you could actually use it as a headset as well, and some people do that. They have the speaker just saying things out loud so their ears are not obstructed. And otherwise, they have the speaker.
Speaker 16: I have information on that woman who asked about the canoe. In the Soundscape help where they talk about the different things, it mentioned that somebody had used, or put a beacon on the dock and then they were able to use the speaker to get to where they had it go on the water. In other words, it brought them right to the dock.
Ricky Enger: Great. So there's a vote for Soundscape. That's excellent. If you want to check out the archive of this episode, or if you want to get those lovely little show notes that I keep talking about chock full of information that we covered this evening, go to Hadley.edu/techitout. You'll be able to download the episode as well as look at the show notes. You can also check out past episodes.
One more thing, don't forget that Hadley has additional discussion groups such as the Writer's Circle, the gardening group, the Spanish chat. If you'd like information on these things or anything else that was discussed in tonight's episode, please feel free to contact me. That's Enger, E-N-G-E-R, at Hadley.edu. Again, my name is Ricky Enger, and I thank you so much for joining me tonight.