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Re: Electronic Canes

From: <peter.b.l.meijer@philips.com>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 16:16:05 +0100
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <0056890007022291000002L912*@MHS>
>> What products are you referring to here? GPS systems? Electronic
>> compasses? Talking signs?
> No, I am referring to electronic canes!  (see above)

Thanks for the clarification, Bruce. Indeed Nurion Industries does 
not seem to have a website. BTW, there is another type of laser cane
discussed on the web page


which in turn is one of the devices listed on Duen Hsi Yen's page on

   Currently Available Electronic Travel Aids for the Blind

together with the laser cane of Nurion Industries. I guess we are now
waiting for the first laser cane that can help navigate the Internet
too? <g>

> My impression is that most users have not found the products
> to be that great, and certainly not worth the asking price.
> Vendors, for their part, have had a hard time getting the word
> out to potential customers.

I know the problem too well, and for me it is was a major 
reason to later redesign everything on top of standard 
components developed for the sighted mass market, and move
towards software and Internet for lowest possible production
and distribution cost. My original hardware prototype did 
not go into production because that too would probably have 
been considered too expensive, while development cost would
have been prohibitive in view of the uncertain and rather 
small potential market. The Internet is great for by-passing
intermediate agencies and getting the word right to potential
customers. A nice side effect is now that the same vision 
substitution technology that was originally intended mostly 
for use as an orientation tool (as described in an article
in the New Scientist) can now also be applied to access 
graphical information on the web or from flatbed scanners. 

Nevertheless, even with the seeing-with-sound software 
currently available for free for personal or academic use, 
it still remains to be seen if sufficient interest in this
technology will arise to keep it alive. It is hard on users
and vendors alike.

Best wishes,

Peter Meijer

Soundscapes from The vOICe - Seeing with your Ears!
Received on Tuesday, 23 November 1999 10:16:09 UTC

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