Monday, 30 May 2016

Talking Tech for May 31 2016

Google iO 2016


The Google developers conference held in May had some exciting announcements.  The major item announced was Google Home which Google describes as:

Google Home is a voice-activated home product that allows you and your family to get answers from Google, stream music, and manage everyday tasks.

It takes what the Amazon Echo, Siri or Cortana can do, and extends the functionality of “Ok Google” almost in to the realms of science fiction.  If you have ever watched the film “Her”, besides the idiotic adult themes in the movie, the rest of what the AI can do sounds very much like Google Home.

If you want to sign up to be notified of developments in Google Home, use the following link:

Here is hoping that unlike the Amazon Echo, that Google Home is available outside of the US.


You can also watch most of the workshops  from Google IO (including 3 on accessibility) through the following link: 

Purchase’s to Add to My Connected Home

In the month of May 2016, I purchased several gadgets to extend my Connected Home a bit more.  In particular, I wanted to play with a device that has Home Kit enabled so that I could check its state using Siri, so I decided to purchase the Elgato Room and weather sensors.


Withings Body Analyser and Scales


Flat screen scales which gives you visually on it’s screen your weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), and heart beat.  Whilst this part of the scales is not accessible, the app which gets data from the scales is mostly accessible: i.e. the Withings app which can be used on iOS or Android: Health Mate.


Withings Blood Pressure Monitor


After setup, just put the Blood Pressure cuff  around your arm, press start on the Withings app, and receive your blood pressure in less than 1 minute.  Easy to put the device on and use.


Elgato Room and Weather Sensors


Relatively easy to setup and use with the Eve app.

The sensors are Home Kit enabled so that you can ask Siri to get the current indoor or outdoor temperature and humidity.

Whilst they work, I find using them with Siri is very sluggish, Siri sometimes gets confused about what you said and does a web search instead. The indoor and outdoor sensors don’t seem to be as accurate as other weather sensors I have tried.

I’d recommend my Netatmo Urban Weather Station for two main reasons over Elgato Eve: the Netatmo Urban Station is Wi-Fi based and secondly can be used on iOs or Android, not tied to Home Kit.


VA Connect for Android and iOS Podcasts


A basic introduction to the Vision Australia Connect apps for Android and iOS to access the Vision Australia I-Access service.


VA Connect Android demo: 


VA Connect iOS demo: 

VoiceView Preview Now Available for Amazon Fire TV


Just note, as far as I know, you can’t officially use Fire TV in Australia.


Are is some info from Amazon past on to me re the Fire TV and their new screen reader.


Today, we’re announcing that we are bring our VoiceView screen reader to Amazon Fire TV. Rolling out today and over this week via a free over-the-air software update to Fire TV customers, this Preview edition of our VoiceView screen reader is part of a larger initiative we’re working on to make Fire TV more accessible to our visual impaired customers.

The VoiceView Preview works by reading on-screen text out loud as you navigate Amazon Video content, menus, and settings on your Fire TV. VoiceView provides enhanced navigation to on-screen content, presenting the rich interface in a fashion that doesn’t depending on the visual layout. You can use the keys on your remote's directional key pad to highlight and hear all available text and information on-screen. 

You can turn on VoiceView by holding down the "Back" and "Menu" buttons on your Fire TV remote at the same time for two seconds. The “Back” and “Menu” buttons are the left and right buttons in the top row of three small buttons.  You will hear "VoiceView Ready" when the feature is enabled and ready to use. The first time you start VoiceView, you will be invited to take a tutorial teaching you the VoiceView commands, as well as helping you learn all of the buttons on your remote.  Also, the first time you encounter significant screens in the Fire TV interface, you will receive a description of that screen, which you can hear again by pressing the Menu button.

Here are some ways to use VoiceView: 

·         Playback Controls – If you press a playback control button (Play/Pause, Rewind/Skip Back, Fast-Forward/Skip Forward) on your remote while an Amazon Video title is playing, VoiceView will tell you which button you've selected. 

·         Double-press the "Menu" button to access additional playback options, including "Watch from Beginning," captions, and "Next Episode" (for TV shows).

·         When your on-screen keyboard is open, VoiceView will read out each character as you move focus to it.

Over the coming months we will be listening to customer feedback and looking at ways to expand VoiceView capabilities. Feel free to try out the feature and please let us know what you think.



Top Ten Gadgets


This is a list of the gadgets that I use all the time at home.


Apple TV,

Apple watch,

Airplay Speakers,


Netatmo Urban Weather Station,

Ring Video Doorbell,

Wahoo Heart Beat Monitor,

Withings Body Analyser and Scales,

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor, and

WeMo switch’s.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Talking Tech for May 17 2016

Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction Head Phones


Just purchased up an update of my 2nd generation of the Bluez 2 Bone Conduction Head phones, and these new ones are much more comfortable to ware.


There is a new distributer of these head phones in Australia:

Alchin Consulting. The web address is 

The retail for $199, and Mr Alchin will donate $5 back to Vision Australia.


Audio Adrenaline Bundle


you can get these 3 excellent audio games: Space Encounter, Audio Rally Racing and Audiospeed at $29.99 Australian as a bundle. 


Global Accessibility  Awareness Day May 19 2016


Join the Global Accessibility Day on Thursday, May 19 2016 and mark the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) 


The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start.  Awareness comes first


Go to Vision Australia’s webpage to find out what we are doing or look at the official Global Accessibility Awareness Day page:


Vision Australia

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 


More Equipment News from Vision Australia


Vision Australia Equipment Solutions will soon be selling over the next few Months Android phones that can come pre-installed with the Synapptic software that I talked on the program previously, and most exciting of all, Vision Australia will be selling a simple to use large print button mobile phone.


The large print button phone should be available sometime in June.


Apple Online Store now with it’s Own Accessibility Category


Apple is now selling through it’s online store a number of products including items for AbleNet, Humanware (Braille displays), and the Skoog tactile music maker. 


The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time


Just an interesting read.

Some of these devices included: 


Sony Discman (age of CDS),

Sony Walkman,

Apple iBooks (first laptop to offer wi-fi), 

Amazon Kindle,

Poleroid camera,


ToMTomTom GPS,

IBM Selecric Typewriter,


Transistor Radio,


Monday, 9 May 2016

Talking Tech for May 10 2016

Info Sound: a discussion of the Synaptic Software for Android devices


An Android launcher that simplifies the Android experience by putting applications in to an easy to use menu.


Large print, high contrast, speech feedback and voice control is available.


Some of the apps included:




Web browsing,


Address book.



Alarm clock,


Voice memos,


Reading machine (OCR),

MP3 player,


RSS podcasts,

Internet radio etc.


$190 Pounds or $364.


The Ballyland Magic App for Teaching 6 to 8 Year Olds How to Use VoiceOver Gestures


Interesting concept for teaching young children how to use VoiceOver gestures: 1 finger flick left and right, 1 finger double tap and 3 finger flick left or right: by getting a number of characters to rehearse and put on a magic show.


Demo of a Great New Free Audio Game: Audio Game Hub


This app for iOS is self voicing and contains 8 games: Archery, Hunt, Samurai tournament, Samurai Dojo, Labyrinth, Memory, and Blocks.


My Demo:


iOS App Store link:


My Demo of Using Microsoft Outlook on the Mac


A few weeks ago I stated how good I was finding Office 2016 for the Mac, here is a demo from me on using Outlook on the Mac.  Again, Microsoft is to be congratulated for doing such a fantastic job. 


Apple Watch turns One


Late April, the Apple watch turned one, and I’m still using mine. 

60 Fun Things to Ask Siri


Think some folks have to much time on their hands.

Monday, 2 May 2016

TAlking Tech for May 3 2016

Cobalt Talking Microwaves Coming to Vision Australia


A few weeks ago we spoke about the talking microwaves from Colbolt and aired on Info Sound: 

Now that Vision Australia is in the process of ordering them in,if your interested, leave your name with Equipment Solutions at Vision Australia.


More info about the microwave from the search page from Colbolt Systems in the UK for the moment: 

4 Ways Google is Building a More Accessible World for the Vision Impaired by funding projects covering:


Gaining equal access to information,

Getting around,

Improving screen readers (Chromvox), and

Creating accessible apps,.



ANZ signs on for Apple Pay


If you didn’t want to use American Express with Apple pay, if you have an ANZ card, you can now use Apple pay to pay for your coffee etc on your iPhone or Apple watch. 

Accessibility Support in office 365 online


Online access to the Microsoft Office portal and screen readers: mainly JAWS and Narrator. 

Android Accessibility Help Main Page from Google



Getting started with Talkback,

Using Talkback with BrailleBack,

Control Android with Voice Assist,

Switch access for Android, and

More Android accessibility features: magnification, large text, high contrast text, colour inversion, captions etc. 

Automatic alt-text for photos is now available on Android for Facebook


Now you can have the benefit of finding out what a photo “may contain on both iOS and Android for photos.  Just use the Facebook app and it’ll appear in your time line.


Dropbox is Testing Place Holders for Online storage


Rather than having your files locally via Dropbox, you will just have a place marker which will allow you to access the folder/file from the could directly without taking up valuable storage space on your hard drive.  Still being tested. 


App for Google Glass helps Vision Impaired Navigate Smart Phone Screens


A group of research’s developed an app to navigate a smart phone screen via Google Glass and hand movements.

The app, developed primarily for the visually impaired, projects a magnified image of the screen to the Google Glass display. Images are sent using Bluetooth, and the user can interact with them by tapping on the stem of the Google Glass device.