As previously anticipated I spent a nice morning at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Milan listening to a couple of thesis project (which are now approaching 50% of their completion). I was invited to listen to Vinay Venkatraman presentation: a bright minded Indian guy who came out with this nifty prototype of a new way to interact with web content for visually impairedusers.
The main idea is that actual screen readers (Flash Voice exluded, I dare to say are specifically linear (e.g. they scan the page top to bottom and have the transformed in interactable synthetized voice. full stop.) while we (and with we I mean someone who can see) usually interact with web content in non-linear ways. So Vinay came out with a solution which translates web page elements into different sounds: a TNICK for a form, a PLICK for a paragraph, a TRSTCH for a link and so on; everything is controlled via a motion-feedback enabled roller which is USB connected to the computer and manipulated by the user.
His prototype (which is made for nearly 70% of wood) targets developing countries thus trying to be EXTREMELY cheap to be built and based on open source software and ready-to-build hardware kits. Vinay is probably taking into account that the 100$ laptop is really becoming a smashing hit in the next few years (after the speech I suggested him to take into account the 20$ cellphone too). I tried to test the prototype but – thankyou Murphy – all the app crashed and didn’t re-started; I’m looking forward to retest it soon.
My visit ended with a quick chat with Fabio and a Pizza with JC /thankyou for spreading the word on Flash Voice!), Phil Tabor and Neil Churcher, with whom I had an enlighting discussion on the future of mobile television.