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Accessible Location and Navigation
"It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive."
Mobile Geo Brings GPS Bling to the Big Blue Ball
NOTE 1: Mobile Geo, the culmination of a joint venture between Code Factory and the Sendero Group, is a GPS navigation software solution for the blind and low vision that can be used on off-the-shelf Windows Mobile devices.
Hello My Friends,
Earlier this week, Code Factory released version 1.5 of its ground breaking GPS software solution for the blind and low vision, Mobile Geo.
In the coming months, I will be writing articles and producing podcasts covering this exciting and dynamic new tool that has singlehandedly transformed what has been described as a seemingly unfathomable mobile world into a beautifully mapped and accessible global village.
In the interest of brevity, I will forego any lengthy description of the nature and basic functions of GPS and/or GPS related devices, in this post, in favor of sharing my first real proverbial test-drive of Code Factory's Mobile Geo.
So, let's get started!
My name is Mark Taylor and I live in southern California. I am 42 years old. I was born legally blind. Following a complete retina detachment, ten or so years ago, my residual vision was reduced to little more than light perceptive tunnel vision. Since then, I have learned to use what remaining sight I still possess as much as possible without putting myself or others at risk.
While I can read magnified text on a closed-circuit television (CCTV) and though my primary Desktop computer is equipped with a 26-inch LCD display complete with a screen-reading and screen-magnification software package, for all intent and purposes, I choose to function as a totally blind individual. That is, when traveling alone, I use a white cane. My preferred method of reading hardcopy text is Braille.
Though it may be difficult for some to believe, as it has taken me a lifetime to accept, there are moments when I know I am the luckiest person alive; for while I enjoy the splendor and awesome beauty, known only to those who see with their eyes, I am also enraptured and protected by the subconscious and ancient knowledge, known only to those who see with their thoughts.
IN THE BEGINNING
Before Code Factory's release of Mobile Geo, in addition to navigating with a cane, I used HumanWare's PDA/software GPS solution, Trekker. Please note that Trekker, along with HumanWare's Maestro application, was the first to bring GPS and PDA accessibility to the visually impaired wishing to use off-the-shelf wireless hardware.
Allow me to thank HumanWare for being the first to provide an accessible GPS utility for me and thousands like me to add to our mobile toolkits.
MARK'S CURRENT WIRELESS TOOLKIT
At the time of this post, my primary wireless devices include:
OK, for my first official test run of Mobile Geo 1.5 on my Samsung Epix, I have two objective, (1) to see how accurately and timely Mobile Geo announces intersections and cross street names as I either walk or ride in an automobile, without first having to create or activate any kind of route functions, and (2) to see how Mobile Geo performs when I receive an incoming call on my Smartphone.
Simply put, I want to see how well Mobile Geo performs "out-of-the-box", so to speak. If it passes my test, then I know that if I ever become disoriented, all I need do is launch Mobile Geo and it will immediately begin announcing my current location. To me, this is an essential function of any high quality GPS navigation solution. Not to mention that it allows me to quickly and easily join in the navigation experience when traveling to previously undetermined destinations.
SETTING IT UP
Before setting out today, I took the following steps in order to configure both Mobile Geo and my Samsung Epix SGH-i907 Smartphone:
NOTE 2: This document presumes that you have already installed and are familiar with the basic features and functions of both Code Factory's Mobile Speak and Mobile Geo software applications.
NOTE 3: For the sake of convenience, the following steps are written in present tense.
NOTE 4: As noted above, in addition to the Epix internal GPS receiver, I also have an external Bluetooth GPS receiver. In this exercise, I will be using my external GPS receiver.
That's it. Now you're ready to roll (or walk, as the case may be) (Smile).
ON THE ROAD WITH MOBILE GEO
As I walked out of my house, armed only with my Samsung Epix, my beloved white cane, and a one-piece stereo Bluetooth headset, I was ready to put Geo through it's paces.
Mobile Geo performed perfectly today. In conjunction with the Samsung Epix, Geo accurately and reliably reported my current GPS location complete with automatic intersection announcements.
In no way, did Mobile Geo impede the performance of my wireless device or compromise my safety. In fact, to my amazement, I discovered that Mobile Geo added yet another layer of accessibility to my traveling experience, greatly reducing any travel fatigue, while at the same time increasing the reliability and integrity of my mobility skills.
Unlike prior GPS solutions for the blind and low vision, Mobile Geo did not require that I carry an additional piece of hardware in order to enjoy the freedom of navigating with confidence.
A very fine first showing, to be sure.
Congratulation to Code Factory, Sendero, and all of us for we have now stepped through an accessible door that will never be closed again.
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