I have been looking for a way to make the setup of the vOICe significantly less cumbersome for quite some time. As background, I bought a netbook in 2010 and began using video glasses and headphones. That setup had several disadvantages.
- I had to wear a back pack all the time I was using the technology.
- I had to juggle multiple wires which was a hassle because the wires would get tangled.
- Netbooks are still quite large and are difficult to carry.
- I was unable to use the setup effectively in the office since it is difficult carrying 2 laptops.
- Getting the setup ready took it leased 4 to 5 minutes from a cold start. I am one of those people who do not believe in using the standby and/or hibernate functions. If I was not using the netbook, and I did not have access to an electrical wall outlet, I would shut it down.
I had several discussions on the seeingwithsound mailing list about simplifying the setup. We could not come to any conclusions. Devices such as Google glass are an option but as of now, very few people have access to them. Moreover, they are significantly more expensive than anything else on the market. My netbook setup cost me approximately $400. The bulk of that cost was that of the netbook. The obvious thing to do is to shrink the netbook but there are very few machines that have a smaller form factor. Some phones and tablets can use external web cams via the USB two go standard but this is not reliable and these phones are few and far between. It was my father who suggested that I could head mount the phone. Yes, we had considered doing this before but as I’ve said above, phones were too big. Enter the mini android phone. My thanks to Dr Meijer for finding this. This phone runs version 4.2.2 of Android and has a 2.5 inch screen. I was able to head mount the phone using a sports headband and a custom pocket. I attached a fisheye lens to the phone camera and connected the supplied headphones. I now have an extremely compact setup which runs the vOICe. I do not have a SIM card in the phone because I do not need to use its phone or data features. The phone comes with a standard micro USB connector and, is water resistant.
Warning: I did need sighted assistance to install Talkback. That is the only downside I can find with this phone. Mind you, it is indeed possible to install Talkback independently by using the android debug Bridge but launching Talkback without rooting the phone is not possible as of this writing.
I am planning to invest in a Bluetooth headset so that I can go completely wireless. However, I consider that optional. In terms of cost, the entire solution is just above $100. Please see the below table for a cost breakdown.
|Mini Android phone||74.62|
You may ask if there is anything about the netbook solution that I miss. Yes, there are 2 things.
- The camera orientation in the center that is, it is between my eyes. I am used to this alignment. In the phone solution, the camera is positioned just above my left eye.
- Hesternalized sound rendering.
Other benefits of the phone solution
- The face recognizer is handy because I can orient myself towards a person.
- The autofocus feature maintains the sharpness of edges when viewing objects from short distances.