Monthly Archives: October 2010

How do blind people and the visually impaired use mobile phones? by Diane Shawe

Most new mobile phones are difficult for blind or the visually impaired to use without assistive technologies, or at least built-in accessibility functionalities. A more complex mobile phone requires some kind of a screen reader or a voice recognition system to function well for people who are totally blind.

When mobile phones started to emerge on the market, their accessibility was less complex. Blind people practically had to memorize the layout of the phone’s keypad, which is very similar to regular phones, practically with two extra needed keys, send and cancel. After learning these keys, it was possible to use most of the phone’s functionality, even without being able to see the display. Of course, initially caller id was not available, but in practice that was the only difference.

With the growth of the Smartphones it required more and more effort to make mobile phones accessible to blind people. Phone manufacturers started to build voice recognition into their still simple phones.

However many goods, such as mobile phones or digital television devices, are not easily usable by people with visual impairments. Some disability rights campaigners had claimed that a previous draft of the Directive would force manufacturers to change the way goods are made.
Nevertheless, the Presidency has published amendments to the draft Directive that make it clear that the planned law does not change the legal landscape for manufacturers.

“This Directive shall not apply to the design and manufacture of goods,” said an amendment to Article 4 of the proposed Directive tabled by the EU Presidency Many goods are not accessible to people with disabilities.

A position paper from the European Blind Union published last year while goods were still potentially covered by the draft Directive outlined some of the problems.
“Inaccessible products are barriers to independent living for blind and partially sighted people,” it said. “For blind and partially sighted people, digital television is inaccessible because the interface requires the user to be able to see menus and programme information on the television screen.

The major gap started to emerge between the blind and sighted users, when mobile phones started to run operating systems, and users were able to use them similarly to a regular computer. At this point, it became necessary to develop a screen reader, which could be used on the mobile phone similarly to how blind people use the computer.

The emergence of touch screens recently made the situation much more difficult. Before, all input was done through a keyboard, which is the ideal situation for blind people. When touch screens started to emerge, software developers quickly picked up the technology, but in many cases omitted proper keyboard access to their applications. This way, even if blind people had a screen reader to use, it became increasingly difficult for them to enter information, and interact with their phone. But one may argue that there are many different types of Smartphones with keyboards, but some features then mean they omit others.

Screen reader manufacturers started to provide solutions for the use of touch screens. One approach was to disable the actual touch screen, and assign new functionality to it. The screen was divided into four equal parts, and each part represented a button. These virtual buttons were assigned to additional functionality to interact with the phone. Another virtual division of the screen was when a plastic sheet was provided to blind people with holes similar to a number pad. After laying this sheet on the phone, virtual screen areas were created responding to the regular numeric phone pad, which was especially useful with phones which did not have an actual keyboard.

Another invention was modifying the on-screen keyboard functionality. When sighted people touch an area of the screen keyboard with the stylus that key is activated. It was modified for blind people in a way that when an area of the screen is touched, the current key is announced but not activated. After memorizing the on-screen keyboard, people can slide their finger on the screen until finding the desired key. Once the user releases the screen, only then the key is activated.

There are many more inventions on using phone touch screens and on-screen keyboards, but the biggest problem is not solved yet. There is only so much a blind person can do with a screen reader on a graphical user interface, when the application is not coded to provide accessibility features. Technology is rapidly going towards using graphical interaction, while not enough information is provided to developers about accessibility. Meanwhile, screen reader manufacturers are trying to catch up with the latest developments and provide the best possible solutions.

With all this in mind, many location based technology is looking at ways in which they can communicate in real time with up to date and intelligent information. So watch this space

Diane Shawe
Project Development Consultant
http://www.i-send.co

Mobile Devices increase usage of online tickets for travel,entertainment and sport

i-send.co has recently review a new study by Juniper Research forecasting a rapidly increasing usage of mobile devices for tickets for all kinds of travel and entertainment plus sports events will be one of the main factors driving the growth of mobile commerce.Mobile ticketing transactions are forecast to exceed $100bn (based on gross transaction value) as soon as 2012: this is more than double the market in 2010.

The mobile commerce report establishes that the rapid adoption of mobile devices for commerce related applications is by no means limited to ticketing. All segments – money transfers, banking, payments and coupons – are forecast to see significant growth rates.

Report author Howard Wilcox explained: “Our report demonstrates the spectacular growth that we forecast across all the segments of mobile commerce. Four of these segments (Ticketing, Money Transfers, Physical Goods and NFC) will more than double in transaction value over the next two years, whilst Digital Goods, Banking and Coupons will still post very healthy growth of 30% to 50% over the two years.”

The Juniper report, however, stressed that commerce providers need to keep users top of mind when developing their applications. If the initial user experience is poor for mobile payment methods – either based on cost, security, reliability or ease of use – then customers will reject them.

Further findings include:
• Mobile banking is becoming a must-have channel for banks;
• The mobile coupons market will approach $6bn by 2014;
• Mobile payments for physical goods will treble within three years as sites such as eBay Mobile and Amazon Mobile are used increasingly.

The new Juniper report features segment level assessments of mobile payments for digital and physical goods, NFC, mobile money transfer and remittances, mobile ticketing, mobile coupons, smart posters and mobile banking. The study pinpoints the key market drivers and constraints and sizes all seven mobile commerce market segments through global five year forecasts of gross transaction values.

Whitepapers and further details of the study, Mobile Commerce Strategies: Prospects for Payments, Ticketing, Coupons & Banking 2010-2014 can be downloaded from http://www.juniperresearch.com.

With all this in mind it has become apparent that mobile marketing in proximity is going to play a major role in the development of location based communication.

i-send has also published a couple of white papers which can be requested from their website on Access for the visually impaired and Can the Big society Policy generate collaborative prosperity.

Free Wi-Fi is it worth Implementing?

14 Oct 2010 by Diane Shawe

The Effects of EU Directive on Free Wi-Fi

Extract from i-send.co proximity White Paper ‘Enabling Bluetooth technology to aid location-based Big Society Partnerships for Prosperity’ October 2010
As the Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Super-fast broadband is the electricity of the digital age….it must be for all-not just for some…We have already decided to commit public funding to ensure existing broadband reaches nearly every household in Britain by 2012”.

Many councils and commercial businesses around the UK are exploring the opportunity to deliver free wi-fi to their customers, visitors, residents and businesses.

However, there are two main points to consider.

A. Taking Wi-Fi interoperability for granted

Wi-Fi Interoperability should never be assumed. As 802.11n makes its way onto new smartphones and tablets, wireless administrators should stay sceptical about interoperability, warns Andrew Garcia from e week Europe publications.

Most of the mobile phone devices have not received Wi-Fi interoperability certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance especially if they are more than 18 months old. Nevertheless, devices such as Apple’s iPad and iPhone 4, Motorola’s Droid X, and the BlackBerry Torch 9800 are a sampling of new 802.11n-enabled devices likely to be connected to enterprise Wi-Fi networks.

B. Retention of Data

Summary of Directive 2006/24/EC (15 March 2006)
on the retention of data generated or processed with the provision of publicly available electronic communication services or of public communications networks

The requirements apply to retention of data in relation to all providers of Internet access, Internet email and Internet telephony services.

The Directive requires that data necessary to trace the source of a communication is stored. This means that the individual user ID, telephone number, and name and address of the subscriber using the service at the time of a communication must be stored. In addition, the same data must be stored so that the destination of a communication can be traced. Data must also be stored so that the date, time and duration of the communication can be traced, including the date and time of the log-in and log-off of the user.

The data must be stored for a minimum of 6 months, and destroyed after 2 years. The data must be stored securely, which means that service providers must ensure that it cannot be tampered with or altered, and that only specially authorised personnel can access the data. It must be stored in such a way that it can be supplied without undue delay to law enforcement authorities.

When did it come into force in the UK?

The Directive will be enacted into UK law before it becomes effective. This had to happen between 15 September 2007 and 15 March 2009 at the latest. Given the UK’s stance and concerns about combating terrorism, as well as their recent enthusiasm for enacting anti-terrorism legislation it seems likely that they will implement the directive reasonably quickly

Who will have to pay for implementation of this new law?

The company or county providing the Internet access to the end-user will have to bear the cost of setting up, maintaining and managing the retention of data, whether the Wi-Fi service is charged for or not.

As the objective of the EU directive is combating terrorism, it will apply to those locations that offer free Wi-Fi services even if their core business is as an Internet Service Provider and they do not profit from their service.
Importantly the EU Directive will now govern service providers not previously obligated to retain data stipulations, Frost & Sullivan notes 4.

To comply with the law the business will need the following equipment:

• Radius server for authenticating users
• Storage server for holding data
• Database to store user details and internet data

The cost of setting up such a service will increase astronomically, with hardware and labour setup costs running well into thousands of pounds, and monthly hosting, storage and data management fees exceeding hundreds of pounds per month.

This high level of cost and management will deter independent establishments wishing to entice customers to their coffee shop or hotel with free Wi-Fi from providing such a service in the future. So exploring alternate ways of communicating directly with mobile phone users is essential.

i-send intends to introduce emerging technologies that can aid location-based communication for greater prosperity. If you are interested in exploring the aspects of bluetooth proximity marketing and the advantages, then request a copy of our White Paper 2010.

Contents of White Paper                                Click to request a copy
* The Big Society Policy and Challenges for Collaborative Prosperity.
* Councils and Mobile Technology
* Technology saves Councils Quarter of a billion by using Location based technology
* Leicestershire piloted Bluetooth proximity for it Safer Community Strategy.
* Helping the local economy respond to the recession.
* How is Bluetooth developing?
* Bluetooth to launch version 4 for 2011/12
* No need for Cabling
* EU R&TTE Directive (Radio and Telecommunication Terminal Equipment)
* The Effects of EU Directive on Free Wi-Fi
* Taking Wi-Fi interoperability for granted
* Retention of Data
* Print v Digital Marketing & Data Collection.
* The rapid evolution of Mobile Smartphones
* Intelligent Mobile Marketing
* Intelligent targeting
* Access for the Visually Impaired
* Bluetooth Location Based Technology a Breakthrough
* Commissioning the launch of a Proximity or Pilot Schemes
* I-send Conclusion

Click to request copy of White Paper

Can the Big Society Policy aid Collaborative Prosperity?

 

www.i-send.co

Retail Theraphy Bluetooth Style

Extract from i-send.co proximity White Paper

‘Enabling Bluetooth technology to aid location-based Big Society Partnerships for Prosperity’ October 2010 by Diane Shawe

 

Previous recession reports have outlined the latest impact of global economic conditions on businesses and Councils throughout the UK.

The Big Society policy forms part of the legislature programme of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition agreement. It aims to create a climate that empowers and builds communities, resulting in a shift of power away from the role of government, to the people.

Within this framework there remains opportunities for small businesses, community projects, social enterprise initiatives the public and private sector, which are all, considered a critical component of the economy in which they can interpret this policy.

Helping them share and spread a new form of partnership to mitigate the impact of the recession locally, but at the same time maintain momentum on medium and longer term economic goals with a vision to building more prosperous economies, Town Centres and public services.

Although town centres are often associated with businesses, town centres are also places where people live, work and visit.

Understanding the effects of change on people and factoring this into the planning and implementation of the Big Society strategy by channelling easier access to information will impact on people both positively and economically. It has always been said that ‘small businesses are imperative to the growth of any economy’.

We therefore feel that if the Big Society policy is to be effective, it is crucial that small businesses views along with other local and regional public and private sector companies/organisations explore ways of merging communications to form potential partners for prosperity.  Particularly as in this economic climate, smaller, leaner, better local knowledge at the points of delivery may provide small businesses with a competitive advantage against some of the larger, multinational businesses and organisations.

Council throughout the UK are adopting a proactive role by working with local partners to plan an integrated and comprehensive understanding of – and response to – the recession with the main objective of regenerating there localised economy to become leaner, better informed by using the most up to date technology.

As technology evolves more rapidly year after year, the costs and size of technology have shrunk considerably, just as the computational power of the technology has increased. i-send intends to introduce emerging technologies that can aid location-based communication for greater prosperity.

If you are interested in exploring the aspects of bluetooth proximity marketing and the advantages, then request a copy of our White Paper 2010.

Contents of White Paper      Click to request a copy

*he Big Society Policy and Challenges for Collaborative Prosperity.
* Councils and Mobile Technology
* Technology saves Councils Quarter of a billion by using Location based technology
* Leicestershire piloted Bluetooth proximity for it Safer Community Strategy.
* Helping the local economy respond to the recession.
* How is Bluetooth developing?
* Bluetooth to launch version 4 for 2011/12
* No need for Cabling
* EU R&TTE Directive (Radio and Telecommunication Terminal Equipment)
* The Effects of EU Directive on Free Wi-Fi
* Taking Wi-Fi interoperability for granted
* Retention of Data
* Print v Digital Marketing & Data Collection.
* The rapid evolution of Mobile Smartphones
* Intelligent Mobile Marketing
* Intelligent targeting
* Access for the Visually Impaired
* Bluetooth Location Based Technology a Breakthrough
* Commissioning the launch of a Proximity or Pilot Schemes
* I-send Conclusion

Click to request a copy