One of the regular things that I post about on this blog is the vOICe. As of this writing, the vOICe is the only way that a blind person can experience vision. For the true visual experience, the user needs to use video glasses connected to a netbook running a flavour of Microsoft Windows and the vOICe learning edition. Yes, the vOICe has been ported to other platforms such as android and Symbian.
The problem with these platforms is that they involve the use of mobile phones. Mobile phones are indeed versatile gadgets but one of the things that they cannot do is give you a permanent view from head height. It is very difficult, almost impossible to mount a mobile phone such that its camera will be positioned at the tip of your nose or at the level of the eyes. The only way to accomplish a headmounted setup today is to use USB powered video glasses with wide-angle lenses.
I and many others want to eliminate this dependency on Microsoft Windows. This is not one of those windows bashing posts. We want to get the vOICe running on as many platforms as is possible. Towards this, I, with the help of many others in the community have created a port of the vOICe that runs on Linux. We’re trying to get it to run on the raspberry pie. However, though we have a working version, it is very slow and we need help in understanding where the problem is.
One of the questions that arises is why the raspberry pie when there are better platforms available? However, the idea is to use off-the-shelf equipment and ensure that the platform to which the vOICe is ported is sustainable and is easy to acquire for new users. Today, the raspberry pie fits this bill nicely. Moreover, once the vOICe has been ported to Linux, it should be possible for any interested developers to get the source code from the seeing with sound website. A basic version of the source code already exists on that site.
Another reason we are interested in porting the vOICe to the raspberry pie and devices running operating systems other than Windows is the cost. Windows licensing is still more expensive as compared to that of other operating systems. The idea is to have an artificial eye for or below one hundred dollars. The raspberry pie is about seventy dollars. The video glasses are approximately 30 dollars. So, we’re almost there.
Areas where we need help
- improving the performance of the vOICe.
- Adding features to that program such as four-wheel mapping, speed control, the colour filter and if possible obstacle detection.
- getting the drivers for the video glasses (they use the syntek chip set) to work on Linux
If you are interested in participating, either contribute to this thread on the raspberry pie forum or feel free to get in touch.
Threads where the vOICe has been discussed
Links of interest
Finally, I have uploaded some source code with this post which is the working version of the vOICe for nix like operating systems.