CES is the Consumer Electronics Show. It took place last week in Las Vegas. This is where all manufacturers introduce the latest in electronics and technology. This is where stores like Best Buy take a look at all those gadgets and decide what to buy and then sell in the months to come.
Dr. Z followed the events of last week very closely–the web has all kinds of sites keeping track of what happened last week. The best site for this was the CNET website. (ces.cnet.com). Some of the videos on the website are captioned!
Several devices attracted our interest — LG had a TV that came with a webcam. Can you imagine doing a VP call with a large screen TV–how cool would that be, but that would mean giving up what you were watching on TV to do a video call. I am sure we can schedule these times to make video calls that does not happen at the same time as the Super Bowl. But we are seeing a slow trend towards video communication. There were a few other devices that had video communication capability–but these were in the prototype (test model) stage and could take a year or so before we can see them on the market. There were a lot of netbooks with built-in webcams that came with a faster Atom processor (chip) made by Intel. The old processor was a “N270″ and the new ones coming out had a “N450″ processor. This usually means a faster processor which means better video quality for video communication when using a product such as ZVRS’ Z4 (it should be coming out very soon.)
All this is good news–this is a signal that the major players are seeing the potential of video communication which spills over to better technology for us deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate.
Dr. Z cares about your communication access.
I had the occasion to chat with a Finnish deaf guy about technology. As we all know, Finland is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. They have texting just like us all in America, but they have one thing we in America do not yet have–that is communicating via video on our cell phones (or Blackberries). I am not sure if they have 2-way videos on Blackberries in Europe yet.
In any event, they use video a lot of times and they are adept at holding their cell phones while signing to the other party. The video is very clear and battery life does not seem to be an issue. They have had it for a couple of years now. Why don’t we have it in America yet? The reason is because our networks are not fast enough to carry video yet. I am talking about two-way video, not one-way video where we can communicate back and forth. The carriers in America are working to make it happen, but it is not here yet. I predict it will come to America in a year or so–how sweet life would be when it is here!!!
There has been ongoing research and development for access to radio for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. This is called captioned radio. Imagine, when you are around the house, or in a car and want to access news or entertainment, you can watch it from a battery-powered, wireless device. That would be cool!
Towson University, National Public Radio (NPR), WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and the Harris Corporation have worked on such a technology for the past several years with the help of a grant from NIDRR. Some receiver manufacturers have expressed initial interest. At this time, the technology has been in the prototype stage, with all the needed functions identified and working. There have been several demonstrations to show how this works.
At the recent TDI Conference in Washington, DC, Mike Starling of NPR gave a presentation on the status of this project. Due to the recent economic downturn, this project has slowed down but they are working on moving forward when the economy gets better.
Like other deaf and hard of hearing people, I cannot wait for the day when we can enjoy radio programming!
For more information, this website has some documents and presentations: Captioned Radio Documents and Presentations
This is a great device. It is a wireless router, wireless hotspot and a wireless access point all built into one credit card sized device. It is currently marketed by Sprint and Verizon and sells for $99 bucks. This also requires a monthly fee of around $50-70 for 5 gb of usage per month.
We have not yet tested this with video with the Z340 yet–but from some indications it seems to work very well. Bear in mind it has a 5 gb limit and using too much video within a month can get you over the limit.
It should be good with wireless devices such as the Z340 and you can use it anywhere where there is no wifi coverage–it is similar to something called Cradlepoint, but is much more flexible.
AT and T and T-Mobile have not yet brought similar products to market.
This is the link to Sprint’s website on MiFi.
This is the link to Verizon’s website on MiFi.
Dr. Z does not specifically endorse products or guarantee their ability to work with your devices. You need to be an informed consumer to check into these further before making a decision to buy.