back to article Bluetoothing androids to shout at blind people

American researchers have developed a Bluetooth-based system which would allow blind people to hear information about their immediate surroundings in the same way that others read posters, signs or notices. The "Talking Points" system was developed at the University of Michigan, and will be presented at international …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Unique serial number?

    That'll be its Bluetooth MAC address then?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    I can hear it now

    Hi! You are now walking past an information beacon sponsored by Happy carpets - the home of homemaking furnishings for your home. Special offer today is the axminster at only £12.99. Oh, and mind that step, what, too late? Oh......

  3. John Dooley
    Jobs Horns

    Been there, done that

    perfect example of brain dead know nothings covering ground plowed long ago, unfruitfully.

    They had wireless messages embeded in city locations about 20 years ago, and guess what, yea the devices can be made cheap enough, but the ninnys never factor in the COST, startup and ongoing of creating and maintaining such a huge database of information that is of marginal value in the first place.

  4. Sampler

    Slight problem

    Is bluetooth borked on android :D

  5. Matt Thornton

    Great (not)

    So Google buys a billion of them and bombards you with adverts everywhere you go. Well, I guess that's already pretty much true.

    Having said that, I hate Bluetwats, so I might buy a beacon and record a message to that effect for anyone who walks past my house.

    Kudos for trying to develop stuff for disabled people but this idea is far too sketchy for my liking (the commercial angle is too blatant). In fact, I don't see the point of the bluetooth beacon thingy. Lots of new phones nowadays have GPS on board, why not just have the same data georeferenced and as you wander about, you get told when there is some nearby info for you.

    (Hmm. Wait. I didn't say that. I might go off and design that. Where's the lightbulb icon when you need it?)

  6. Anonymous Coward

    "RFID readers cost twice as much as my car"

    I've had some pretty crappy motors myself in the past, but never one as cheap as fifteen quid!


  7. Anonymous Coward

    Somebody needs to tell Tesco about this idea

    Hopefully if this idea takes off, they can get rid of the nasty talking escalator which has stopped me using their Ponders End store.

    Its incessant nattering -- in an especially irritating, inane voice very obviously recorded by somebody who was completely bored -- is played at unnecessarily high volume so its heard throughout half of the store and not just by the people on the escalator. It sounds completely brainwashing and completely stops me from buying anything in half the store. Its even worse than LT's "Mind the Gap" which at least only repeats on stations with gaps and only when the train is in a station.

    Presumably it "talks" for the benefit of blind people, because everybody else would be satisfied with a sign and perhaps some flashing lights to ensure they know the sign is there. If the escalator could be persuaded to talk only to people who cannot see, maybe the rest of us could use Ponders End in comfort again.

  8. Matt

    Just too far

    My Dad is blind and I think he would find this extremely irritating... a step too far! Especially Tarquin's example as I can only think this system would be abused... Tesco would end up sponsoring every lamp-post in the land

  9. Adam Foxton

    @"big database" people

    Wouldn't it mean they can use bluetooth to connect to a small webserver on their bluetooth dongle? Like a bluetooth enabled microcontroller webserver on the device- rather than requiring an internet connection.

    So running costs are approximately bugger all owing to the tiny power consumption of these devices, setup costs are £20, and so on. So no huge databases and a great source of information. Restaurants with menus being bluetoothed out- ready for automated translation, in text sizes you can read, and so on. Train stations with the timetables available- a bit more involved as you'd need a data-feed of some sort, but that'd hardly be difficult to manage. PIC based webserver w/bluetooth, data feed from station network over a serial link.

    Use a standard Bluetooth profile (serial port or PAN or something similar) to send out the data and a huge number of devices could suddenly become even more useful- especially if it was rolled out world-wide.

    You'd have to make it read-only (or at least with a physical lock-out) so you'd not be able to stick other information on it...

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Erm wouldn't this be a bit insecure

    ID:0129312 This Loyds back cash point number 832 ................

    cloned ID:0129312 This Loyds back cash point number 832 ................

  11. James O'Brien

    @Erm wouldn't this be a bit insecure

    Nice call there.

    "Thank you for shopping at Walmart sir that will be $250. Yes that is a loud horn behind me sir thank you heres your change and watch the curb stepping away from the counter."

    On a side note I can also see someone with a sense of humor too...

    "Walk 10 steps ahead and then turn left, *snicker* 5 steps then another left, *snicker* you will arrive at your destination in 20 steps. . . *snicker*" 1...2...3...4...5...THUD

    wonder if I can get this walk into a street because the voice in my headset told me that it was a sidewalk, get hit by a car and then sue

    /Mines the one with the BlueTwat Headset in it.

  12. Dave The Cardboard Box

    Will they do this for road signs

    ..cos I keep getting pulled by the Old Bill.

    "Stop" because I've never seen one yet.

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