Friday, May 22, 2009

Looking Beyond The Screen At Google I/O2009

Come join me and Charles Chen at Google I/O2009 at our session on Looking Beyond The Screen (YouTube Preview where we will describe some of our work on eyes-free interaction on Android. We'll be around during most of Google I/O, so if you are interested in eyes-free interaction ranging from Emacspeak to Fire-Vox, or anything else eyes-free, feel free to grab us in the hallways. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Abstract: Looking Beyond The Screen

Looking Beyond The Screen

Project Eyes-Free aims to enable fluent eyes-free use of mobile devices running Android. Target uses range from eyes-busy environments like in-car use to users who are unwilling to or incapable of looking at the visual display --- see For The Blind, Technology Does What A Guide Dog Can't, NYTimes, January 4, 2009, for a high-level overview. As described in that article, we are releasing components from project Eyes-Free as they become ready for end-user deployment. This announcement marks the first public release of the eyes-free shell on the Android Marketplace, though the underlying source code has been available for some time from the code repository at Google Code Hosting.

Here is a brief overview of the end-user affordances provided in this release:

  1. An Eyes-Free Shell for conveniently launching talking applications.
  2. A collection of useful talking applications that turn an Android phone into an eyes-free communication device --- see subsequent sections for an overview of these applications. Note that thes eapplications have been written to be both useful to end-users as well as to help the developper community to come up to speed with developing eyes-free applications for Android.

We will be uploading video tutorials demonstrating the use of these applications to YouTube --- please see the project Web site for these links as they become available.

Talking Dialer

A key innovation is the use of the touch screen to enable one-handed, eyes-free dialing of phone numbers using the touch screen --- see Miguel Helft's NY Times article cited above for a good layman's description of the technique. The talking dialer comes with a talking phone-book that enables users to quickly select a desired contact using the touch screen.

Knowing Your Location

This mini-application announces your present location based on information acquired via GPS and the cell network. It speaks your current heading using the built-in magnetic compass, looks up the current location on Google Maps, and announces the location in terms of a nearby address and street intersection.

Device State

This mini-application announces useful information such as battery state, signal strength, and availability of WiFi networks.

Date And Time

This mini-application provides single-touch access to current date and time.