Hear ye, hear ye! Smartphones for one and all! Qualcomm has announced a breakthrough in smartphone interfacing to allow the visually impaired access to the smartphone technology we all know and love. The new interface, named Project Ray, adapts to user preferences and habits to allow easier access to commonly used actions such as contacts, SMS, and the dialer. In addition to custom interfaces, a set of finger gestures can be used at any time to access commonly used functions as well. Maybe this project will not only bring smartphones to people who were previously unable to use them, but pave the way for screenless handsets. Hit the break for the press release.
Qualcomm and Project RAY Announce the Development of an Eye-Free Mobile Device to Facilitate Daily Life for Blind and Visually Impaired People
Based on an off-the-Shelf Smartphone and Featuring a Unique User Interface, the Project RAY Device Enhances Quality of Life and Promotes Independence
TEL AVIV AND SAN DIEGO – October 22, 2012 – Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), through its Wireless ReachTM initiative, and Project RAY Ltd., which designs accessibility tools for blind and visually impaired people, today announced that they have developed the RAY mobile device, an always-on, easy-to-use, multi-function, smartphone that is synchronized with Israel’s Central Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Handicapped audio books content. This collaboration sets a new standard in accessibility tools and ease of use for visually impaired people.
According to the World Health Organization, “285 million people are visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision…About 65 percent of all people who are visually impaired are aged 50 and older, while this age group comprises about 20 percent of the world’s population. With an increasing elderly population in many countries, more people will be at risk of age-related visual impairment.”
Today, the majority of blind and visually impaired people use simple 2G mobile phones for voice telephony only. In addition, they depend on an array of specialty devices, such as audio book-readers, color readers, navigation tools, raised Braille labels, special bar-code scanners, and large-buttoned, voice-enabled MP3 players which are prohibitively expensive. Based on an off-the-shelf Android OS smartphone powered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.’s Qualcomm Snapdragon™ processor, the Project RAY device integrates the capabilities of smartphone technology and the capabilities of these multiple specialty devices into a single, cost-effective handset with 24/7 mobile broadband connectivity and a UI designed for eye-free interaction. A trial project is currently underway that is testing the new system with 100 participants throughout Israel.
“The breakthrough UI defines a new language for human-device interaction that is built ground-up for eye-free operation,” said Boaz Zilberman, chief executive officer of Project RAY. “The user touches any position on the screen and that position becomes the starting point for selecting an audio-book, messaging or other activity. Navigation is enabled by a few simple finger movements in different directions. The phone’s built-in vibration capabilities and voice prompts provide user feedback and the UI learns to adapt its behavior based on users’ preferences and usage patterns.”
The UI supports a rich set of services, including phone calls, text messaging with vocal read-out, navigation, object recognition, social network services, remote assistance, audio-book reading, and other leisure and entertainment offerings.
“Audio-books, magazines and periodicals are an important method for accessing information for blind and visually impaired people, but the current system requires renting items by mail, which is not timely. Subscribers can now use RAY devices to easily access and download audio assets from the library over an advanced mobile broadband network, rather than waiting to receive CD copies,” said Amos Beer, chief executive officer of the Central Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Handicapped. “Our library is delighted to be working with Qualcomm and Project RAY to build a system enabling people with vision impairments to remotely access and download audio assets from the library. Also, the system is being designed specifically for Project RAY devices and specific user identities to ensure digital rights management protection for copyrighted material.”
“We believe the Project RAY device will enhance the ability of blind and visually impaired people to access resources and information independently,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel for Qualcomm. “This project, which is part of our Wireless Reach initiative, demonstrates one of the many ways Qualcomm technology can improve people’s lives and we are proud to support this important program.”
About Project RAY
Project RAY Ltd. develops and markets breakthrough accessibility solutions for blind and visually impaired. RAY is an integrated mobile device designed to assist visually impaired people and their families in their daily life. RAY leverages cutting edge mobile technologies to increase independence, enrich social life and improve accessibility of essential services for the visually impaired.
About the Central Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Handicapped
The Central Library for the Blind is a registered non-profit organization that was established 60 years ago. It serves some 10,000 subscribers. The Library serves blind, visually impaired and reading-impaired people (those with learning difficulties and anyone who is unable to hold a book due to a physical limitation, such as ALS). The subscription cost is very low, at NIS100 per year. Donations to the Library are recognized according to Israeli income-tax regulation 46.
The majority of the Library’s activity consists of recording books, while remaining resources are directed toward production of books in Braille and large print. Additionally, the Library produces, free of charge, recorded educational material for people who need it, even if it is only for one pupil.
The Library has always made a point of using highly advanced technology, whilst adapting products to the technological systems that are popular with subscribers. Beyond the daily operation of the Library, which is funded by a government budget, the Library staff continually develops and implements projects to increase efficiency, for the benefit of subscribers, and these projects are funded by various donors in Israel and throughout the world.
Due to the constant need for many donations, the Library maintains full transparency regarding its activities and use of different funds. Most of the Library’s products can be ascribed a value, and this means that each donor can allocate a donation for a specific purpose that is close to his or her heart. The Library management ensures that each donation is used to improve the service to our thousands of subscribers.
For additional information about the Library www.clfb.org.il
Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) is the world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. For more than 25 years, Qualcomm ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of digital communications, linking people everywhere more closely to information, entertainment and each other. For more information, visit Qualcomm’s website, OnQ blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.
Samsung found guilty of violating 4 Apple patents by ITC, but wins mult-touch case in the Netherlands
Among the myriad of patent cases between Samsung and Apple, one has reached a critical decision. In 2011 Apple brought a case up against Samsung to the International Trade Commission for seven patent violations. Today ITC Judge Thomas Pender made the decision that Samsung violated four of those patents. The patents that Samsung were found to have violated include one for scrolling up and down, a variety of UI interactions, and displaying a semi-transparent image over another image. As for the other three patents, Apple dropped one and the other two were dismissed by the judge. The final decision will be made by a panel of ITC Judges in February on whether or not Judge Pender made the right decision.
On the bright side, Samsung was cleared of violating an Apple mutli-touch patent in a Dutch court so they continue to have friends in the Netherlands. So with a victory going to both corners today this very long and drawn out boxing match between Apple and Samung may be headed to an end, but only time will tell.
Camera Zoom FX has consistently proven itself to be the go-to replacement camera application for Android smartphones, and today the app has been given a major overhaul. The update to version 4.0 brings a brand new user interface and several enhancements to the software’s photo capturing functionality.
New features include:
- Portrait mode
- Brightness, exposure
- ISO, metering
- Horizon and Stable indicators
- Golden spiral grid
- New timer UI
- Pinch zoom
- Set review durn
- Prevent screen timeout
- Light leaks + bokeh
- New frames: elegant
- Gallery to view, share and delete
- Support for xhdpi
- Facebook sharing
- Flip photo
Several sources are now reporting that Google will introduce three new Nexus devices at their October 29th event in New York City. To go with the new devices, it also appears an updated Android 4.2 Jelly Bean will be unveiled. The sources have received information claiming Google provides info on the devices to be introduced via a “TGIF” video they sent out internally to their employees this past Friday.
Considering all of the leaked photos and other “reveals,” it appears to be all but certain that a new LG Nexus 4 smartphone will be announced on October 29th. No one has uncovered any information at the FCC so far, but the Taiwanese equivalent has processed an ASUS 7-inch tablet that is likely a 3G capable Nexus 7 tablet. This is supposedly the second of the three devices. The third is rumored to be a 10-inch Nexus tablet produced by Samsung. We know Samsung is working on this device, but according to reports development of the screen will supposedly delay this until sometime in early 2013. Could this device be closer to release than anyone realizes?
Along with the three devices, Google is also expected to announce the availability of Android 4.2, an incremental update to Jelly Bean. Some of the features that are believed to be included in the update are:
- improvements to Google Now that includes some location awareness;
- notification improvements that will enable reading an entire message in the notification area;
- UI improvements for larger tablets;
- keyboard improvements;
- profiles for tablets and possibly phones;
- access to Play Store content via a widget; and
- support for vertical panoramic photos.
Do you have any other ideas on what Google may have planned for their event? Do you think the above may be all or are there other surprises in store for us? Let us know what you think in the comments.
source: Android and Me
Rumor: Upcoming Nexus Featuring Android 4.2 To Feature New Customization Center, Updated Google Now And Project Roadrunner
As we all await the arrival of the latest Nexus device (or devices if all holds true), we are also eagerly awaiting what Google has up its sleeves in the latest Android OS. Well it looks like the gang at Android and Me may have the inside scoop on not only the latest OS which is expected to be software version 4.2, but details on the direction of its Nexus line of devices. According to an anonymous source, Google is trying to promote its Nexus line among all major manufacturers. The various manufacturers will work directly with Google in regards to the hardware and driver details, though Google will be responsible for the hardware updates directly. Moreover, although these special Google devices are part of the Nexus line, they don’t necessarily need to be called Nexus as part of its name– sort of like of what Google did with the Motorola Xoom WiFi tablet. The thought is that by manufacturers joining the Nexus program, it would allow for the special variations of the devices to have even more access to specially-optimized Google content.
Of course since there will be added content, it’s only natural to have an idea of what exactly the Nexus devices will feature in regards to the newest Android OS, Android 4.2. The biggest features in the new OS are rumored to be identified as the new Customization Center, Project Roadrunner, an updated Google Now and revamped Play Store. The new Customization Center will be useful for all Android users as it essentially allows users to update the base Android OS, without having to wait for OEM manufacturers to update their skins. Here’s how it works: it is basically a way for you to do basic customizations through a range of options through the Play Store. When a new update is available, new items like filters and icons would be available via the Play Store. So when Google upgrades Android and a manufacturer doesn’t provide a compatible version of their custom UI initially, the device reverts simply to the stock UI or wait for the upgrade until the manufacturer catches up.
The others seem to be incredibly beneficial as well. Project Roadrunner specifically aims to soup up and optimize battery live on devices, having the same impact as Project Butter did when it came to responsiveness on Jelly Bean-enabled devices. Meanwhile, the updated Google Play Store will likely feature personalized search, optional promotional campaigns with Notification Center integration, more billing options, and easier in-app micro-transactions. And finally, Google Now will be updated to include even more expanded functionality like the ability to ask “Where can I activate bluetooth?” or “How can I tone down the brightness?”, for basic OS questions.
Keep in mind this should all be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s looking more and more like Google is ready to take the next major step in the evolution of Android as a whole. All we need now is for the announcement to hurry up and get here already.
source: Android and Me
As if you needed any additional reason to drool over the Gesture Search app, Google has provided the world with yet another reason. It recently updated its Gesture Search app to be compatible tablets such as the Nexus 7 in order to allow those users to you guessed it— search for items by using simple gestures. Among the noteworthy changes are a freshened up UI, better search performance and customizable actions for contacts.
The app is available in the Play Store now, so if you’re itching to take advantage of these new features— hit the link or scan the code below and grab your copy today.
It’s no secret that Samsung’s Kies desktop software isn’t the most intuitive or user-friendly, but Samsung took some time anyways to make the new update just a little better. From the surface, it looks like Sammy has gone ahead and tweaked the UI significantly in this latest update— which allows for a more organized, yet simplified appearance for users. Unfortunately there’s no change log or anything of note that lists all that’s changed in the latest update, but hey— change is always good for us picky folk.
The new update is available for both Windows and Mac users, so if you’re on a Sammy device, head on down to the source link to grab your download today.
I have to be honest with you guys, this year’s news and rumors for the upcoming Nexus or Nexi devices seems to be a lot slower than last year. It’s possible things are just starting to heat up because we have some more information from Android and Me. According to sources LG will definitely have a Nexus device, and it will be called the LG Optimus G Nexus. What seems odd about that is the fact that “LG” is in the name of the device. Apparently Google has indeed opened up the Nexus program to all OEM’s, but they must adhere to strict standards. Handset manufacturers must use stock Android along with 64MB of secure memory for streaming. Google will also allow custom UI skins as part of a new “customization center.” Last but not least, the hardware needs to be able to support Android 5.0, which should release in the fall of 2013. Since more than one manufacturer is allowed to be part of the program, it appears Google is allowing them to add their name as part of the device name for differentiation.
Now we’ve heard that there will be multiple Nexus devices this fall, but so far the only one that’s known for sure is this LG device, which is of course based on the Optimus G. The plan is that Andy Rubin may mention it at the AllThingsD: Drive into Mobile conference at the end of October. Then in early November, there will be an event hosted by LG and Google to announce the phone, which will be released at the end of November. As to other devices, nothing was mentioned, but I still believe we will have more from the fact that a Galaxy Nexus 2 (or premier) is on the way.
As far as the next version of Android, all things point towards a small update, which will be version 4.2. It will include the “customization center” and the homescreens will be shown as tabs. I also think it’s likely they will bring multi account support.
Benchmarking is one of those tech subjects these days that gets a lot of people worked up. From fan-boys of certain devices or carriers to the family guy a few cubicles down from you at work, you’ve no doubt been approached by someone either in person or online flaunting their latest benchmark scores. But admit it, there’s something about running those tests that we just gravitate to. It’s just in our blood.
Enter Vellamo’s updated benchmarking app from Qualcomm. Vellamo has completely revamped the UI, which is gorgeous by the way, and now features everything from CPU performance to networking capabilities via simulated 3G/4G/WiFi, HTLM5, and web browsing all while comparing your results to other devices. We all know these benchmarks do not mean much in the real world with each and every phone literally being set up differently once it’s in users’ hands. However, Vellamo makes it very appealing to run their app with the latest update, if only to view the gorgeous interface – and maybe grab a glance of how your device still stacks up compared to that new device that just launched. Check it out and let us know what you think of it.
Last May we reported on a project from Teknision, Inc., to create a new home screen UI and launcher for Android tablet devices. At the time, Teknision was in the process of funding the project via Kickstarter. The effort succeeded with the goal of $50,000 reached in July. Today the Chameleon Launcher for Tablets was made available in the Google Play store for $10.
The highlight of the app is the context-based system used to change the home screen. Contexts can be defined in different ways – time of day, wifi network, or gps location. As the contexts change, so does the home screen. For example, at work one set of widgets may be displayed providing quick access to apps like e-mail, calendar, and task manager. In the evening or at home, widgets for social media or entertainment apps may be displayed instead. Along with the context sensitive home screens, the app enables users to deploy a set of improved widgets to their home screen and to customize the mini tray.
If you are interested in this new take on the tablet UI, use one of the download links below. Or, check out the video below showing some of the features of Chameleon.
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