Overheard, Underheard: TalkRocket Pro Lets a User's Location Do the Talking
TalkRocket Go, a new iPhone and iPad application from MyVoice, takes standard text-to-speech to the next level with an intelligent location feature that enables it to suggest relevant vocabulary based on the user's location.
With TalkRocket Go, users can build and organize vocabularies for a variety of daily situations, from interacting with classmates to ordering take-out. Once the selection appears on the screen, the user taps it and the system speaks the phrase. For example, "Can I buy a train ticket to London?" could appear when the user approaches a train station, or a regular food and drink order could appear as a user enters a restaurant. Using GPS, the app can automatically organize locations, putting the nearest one geographically at the top of the list.
TalkRocket Go costs $129 and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.
Similar technology being developed through the Cities Unlocked project in the United Kingdom could potentially do the same thing for the visually impaired.
The Cities Unlocked research project is working on a smart headset that will eventually enable visually impaired people to explore their surroundings independently. The headset will provide users with audio information about their surroundings when paired with their Windows smartphones. The technology involved is being developed by Microsoft, the Guide Dogs charity, and the U.K. government’s Future Cities Catapult.
Microsoft adapted the headsets to include an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and GPS chip, all of which work with Bing Maps and Bluetooth beacons to help visually impaired people make their way around a particular area.
Users will be able to select destinations on their smartphones, and the headsets can offer audio guidance to help them get there, emitting one sound as they follow the correct route and another if they wander off course.
The device can provide verbal directions to selected locations and additional details, such as historical information about points of interest. It can also interact with a network of information beacons placed around urban areas to tell users how long it will take for a bus to arrive and other journey details.