2017-03-01 21:40:33

Hello everyone!
Today I wanted to show you my most recent project and ask for your support and help for making it a complete device. My goal is to create an open source, low cost notetaker called MKSpeech. When finished, it will allow you to take notes, record audio, play media files (audio and video), manage your files, manage contacts, read email, read ebooks, browse the web and work with office documents (like word and power point presentations). Of course as it will be open source, more applications can be developed later.
If you are interested in the project and want to support it, please visit its website. There you will find the complete specifications, as well as some sections (like the blog, roadmap and demos) and a campaign where you can donate for supporting this project.
Thank you!
MKSpeech website

2017-03-01 23:11:06

Hi Manuel.
Wow, really wow dude. This is totally extremely amazing... You'll be known world wide for this awesome product, and people will buy this notetaker so fast, so it'll be difficult to produce new devices. big_smile
Do you have any idea about the price? I could imagine myself using this for sure.
I'm so amazed that you're even able to develop such a cool product. How have you made the Braille keyboard, and the case for the notetaker? It must be pretty expensive to develop all this.
I look so much forward to hear more about this. Keep up the fantastic job.

Best regards SLJ.
If you like the post, then please give it a thumps up.
Feel free to contact me privately if you have something in mind. If you do so, then please send me a mail instead of using the private message on the forum, since I don't check those very often.
Happy gaming... :D

2017-03-01 23:43:18 (edited by blindndangerous 2017-03-01 23:45:06)

This is nothing against you, but rather a few questions I see.
Why should people care?  What is yours going to bring to the table apart from maybe a lower price?
Why a notetaker when laptops/tablets can do a better job then all notetakers that are currently on the market and can cost about $200 for a low working thing?  Why do we need yet another blind specific device?  All the things you say in your post that I saw a few weeks ago, and this post really doesn't offer anything new to the market.

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2017-03-01 23:48:33

Hello SLJ,
Thank you!
I am still thinking and trying to look the best options for making the price even more affordable. Right now the problem will be to produce the device in a good amount of units for decreasing the price. I am estimating that the price will start from (USD) $300 with a keyboard, and up to $450 with 64 GB of memory and the two keyboards. I still have to try to put 128 GB of memory there and see how it works.
About the keyboards, this is the funny and difficult part. Right now I have done the circuitry for power management, audio stuff and functions for charging and letting you know the battery's status. If the campaign gets enough donations I will start to work in the case (I made one, but we need to make a custom model and print it in 3d for being easier to produce) and the keyboard, I have developed the keyboards (both QWERTY and Braille) in theory, I mean I have the needed files and drivers, but we would need more money for buying needed pieces and make some prototypes.
Unfortunately it's a bit expensive to develop this kind of pieces because I have to print only an unit of each of them, and it's when they cost much more. If I'd ask like 50 or 100 units the price would be cheaper. But I think it is totally doable, and the software part is almost ready.

2017-03-02 00:02:31

Hello blindndangerous (sorry, didn't see your post until I have sent mine).
I am not sure what post you are talking about (I have sent some posts in the last months), but I think you can read this post.

2017-03-02 00:20:19

Yes, this is what I was talking about.  I think you had something about it a while back on twitter.

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2017-03-02 01:14:25

Well, Blindndangerous, keep in mind that our situation is not the same as some others. We as tech-savy computer users may be just fine using Linux, which I might as well point out that this system will be using Linux, so completely open source. But some folks can't use a computer, or their vision teachers don't know how to use a computer, or they're comfortable with a braille keyboard. More than anything, a consistent interface may be what they're looking for, a device with a fast startup time, no need to worry about antivirus loading, etc. This is why while we certainly need to get the notetakers as mainstream as possible, the notetaker idea has not completely died off yet. Besides, there's always the problem of braille translation. If a teacher wishes to emboss, the student would have to use the braille translation software, and they may have trouble working that software when a notetaker does it behind the scenes. Perhaps not *this* notetaker, but every other notetaker with a braille display.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2017-03-02 01:20:44

Well, here is 5 bucks for you.
But there are a few things that would have to be a bit more.
1.  what is the os for this thing, windows 10, linux, etc.
Is it a custom os and can it be updated.
Is this os going to be available for pcs to.
Will it be accessible and what screen readers etc will it support or will you make your own.
What devices will it support, wifi bluetooth lan, modem, usb 2 3 3.1 usbc etc, etc.
Could I connect my android or iphone to it.
Could if I chose, run outside the box and load whatever I wanted on it if I didn't want the features it had and do extra things to it.
Could I add external hard drives and stuff.
Could I install aditional hardware in it, hard drive, bigger flash drives, etc.
Could I upgrade the ram, graphics card, etc.
The reason I stopped using note takers in general is while I could run things within them after I learned how to use a computer I realised what was out there, ie games, not just interactive fiction, and surfing the net though you can do that with these devices now days as well as play some games still.
I used to like my old dead dos keynote note taker, if I wanted to I could get out of the system, enter the os and do whatever with it.
I wouldn't mind having a device with a couple boards but I'd like to connect external devices to, braille embossers come to mind, printers obviously via network or usb, hard drives and extra flash storage and probably smart cards and maybe bluetooth speakers.
I'd also like the ability to charge a device off of it while its plugged in.
I'd also like a headphone jack for headphones and standard speakers.
Would this thing have the ability to play cds I know thats not a big thing but I still use it.
Oh and the ability to play audible, epub and pdf, files would be good and daisy books.
Yeah I know its a lot but you will be asked questions on exactly what does what.

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2017-03-02 01:43:12

Sean, it runs a modified Linux distro. With the software being completely open source, I'd assume that it would be available to download as an image. It may, however, be an Arm distribution. But software can be added and removed as you please.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2017-03-02 09:57:05

I think this is a really cool idea. I really hope that this project comes to fruition. It would be great if more disabled people in developing countries had access to this technology. It could even spark more interest in the Linux and open source communities. Those communities could definitely use more blind and visually impaired enthusiasts.

Well done, and best of luck to you!

2017-03-02 11:54:52

I support this project if this device will not be larger than e.g. 10-inch tablet. I tryed using tablets as notetakers (I had both iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab4 10.1), because they are smaller than laptops and faster than netbooks, but I sold both tablets because writing long texts is really not practical on a touch screen. I was using Braille 'n Speak notetaker from Blazie Engineering for about 8 years actively, but I've stopped using it due to various reasons, including bad compatibility with Windows-based software and out-of-date features.

2017-03-02 17:12:15

@7 exactly, that's the point. There are lots of situations where a notetaker is still needed and of course, people from lots of countries can't afford them.
@8 This operating system is based in a Linux OS, that will be updated every two years (a big update) but new versions of important software (security patches, and new versions for the custom software I am doing) will come even faster. I am planning to release the full software stack as open source, so you could install the base operating system (Debian, arch) in a VM, and install the software I will release so you could use the operating system almost in the same way. The screen reader will be Fenrir, probably, but there are other two apps that are being considered right now. In the MKSpeech's website you'll have a complete list of specifications (Basically LAN, wiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, HDMI, and 3 USB ports) and yes, basically you can modify the full operating system as you want for meeting your needs. Right now you can connect Android based Phones, and I plan to work in support for transfering files to iPhone too. You can connect hard drives or flash drives in the 3 USB ports, however you would have to be careful with the energy drain. There is no possibility to update Ram memory and graphics, but it should be Enough (read specs).
@11 I am still exploring different sices, so can't be very sure about the final dimensions of the device. It should be compatible with lots of windows based software, though you couldn't install them there (cause it is going to use Linux). I hope the features will be updated for some years and more software will be added after the first release.

2017-03-02 18:37:22

betcha this will be the cheepest Note Taker on the planet!

watch my brother's twitch stream here:

2017-03-02 20:42:15

This sounds very interesting.
Will you be posting your main menu source code to  GitHub?

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2017-03-02 21:52:34

Hello Phil, I will release all custom software as open source when MKSpeech is released.

2017-03-02 22:29:51

If you posted each program as you finished them the other programmers could make suggestions as to how to improve the code.
I've developed main menus in C plus Plus and Visual Basic 6.
My vb6 main menu had single letter hot keys assigned to each choice, which when entered by the user, selected the menu selection immediately rather than using the arrow keys to move to the selection and then hitting the enter key.

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2017-03-03 03:29:30

Do you plan on making the flash removable like the Braillenote Touch? I ask because in the diy open source world, that's usually the case. If the flash were removable, not only would that mean similar benefits to that of the Touch, but would be huge for the open source end of things. Maybe there could be custom builds that people could either flash, or people could compile their own. Windows 10 Internet of Things may have some potential, I'm not saying the full software stack would *need* to be implemented, but the bare bones, software to control braille, would be fine so that people would have something to tinker with and possibly install windows apps on. Maybe Android if the specs are sufficient enough for Android, even if it's an older revision. Brltty works in most linux based setups, and then other translations wrappers can be applied for grade 2 entry.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2017-03-03 06:31:21

It'd also be nice if we could replace the PI board as the Raspberry Pi evolves. That way you could add worlds first modular notetaker for the blind to it's title.

All the seats are taken in the house that makes the rules.
All the seats are taken in the parliament of fools.

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2017-03-03 18:59:28

@17 it could be possible, of course. But I have to find a point where most of non-technical users will be confortable with the device, and after that I could think about how this could be modified. Sadly this can't be considered, at least right now, a DIY project because It will needs 3d printing, drivers, soldering and other things. Hope this can be easier in the future, though. Windows 10 for IOT does not include audio drivers, and the custom soundcard we have does not include drivers, only for the linux kernel, and exactly the ARM V7 branch, so it is a bit hard to think in Android (not officially supported) or windows 10. Of course I could make the drivers if there are changes in Microsoft's or google's side. anyway it should be easy to create a custom build, the memory will be easy to extract and I plan to provide documentation for flashing operating systems, though I couldn't guarantee accessibility in custom builds.
@18 unfortunately it could be harder, as every board has different pin headers, energy requirements and the soundcard's drivers are not going to be available, I guess. But I can investigate about this possibility later.

2017-03-04 00:24:53

For the general user, you could use a removable sd card or nandflash, though if you use a flash it should definitely be compatible with either a windows machine, linux box, or windows/mac machine with ext4 drivers. I say this because I know the Braillenote Apex uses a Flash and I was told it wouldn't work in a computer if someone popped the flash, though of course I highly doubt the accuracy of that fact as how else would Keysoft have been programmed? Anyway, removable sd card would be the most versatile  solution, as long as it's a class 10 sdxc for best performance.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2017-03-04 00:47:24

Yea, I am using only class 10 SD Cards for testing, though I still have to test if another filesystem (windows hates EXT family and it's the default for the Pi) can be supported.

2017-03-04 01:45:12

Windows hates the ext system unless you have extra software, and yes I am recommend the *purchase* of another piece of software but it's definitely worth it. Paragon ExtFS is a low-level system driver that will embed extended filesystem support into your pc or mac, for around $20.

I'm the only adventure at c: master hahahaha I have unlocked just about everything!

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2017-03-04 02:36:31

Hey MK I was wondering it wasn't clear on the web site,so your using a rasbery PI for the mother board? And did you get help with the 3d printing? This could be a grate linux computer when its all said and done. MK would love to get my hands on one and do some bug testing for you and maybe add some more recordings to the site. You can always email me through the forum. I have got nothing else to do so yeah.

Bitcoin Address:

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2017-03-04 02:46:24

Also for those of you who love linux command line you could use Ecasound or if you have a sdr dongle you could do shortwave radio listening through the command line. You could even make videos using pictures and audio files with ffmpeg as well. Love this idea man and love this project.

Bitcoin Address:

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2017-03-05 23:15:25

@22 didn't know about that software, then it looks much easier to make the SD Card available for windows users. Thank you for the suggestion!
@23 yes, It's a raspberry pi and we're designing the different pieces for being printed, yes. So far I have print the board for managing the power (like draining power from batterie, charging battery and let the Pi to know energy remaining), but when donations will reach the goal, we are ready to print the case, the keyboard's board and other useful pieces needed for the development. Yes, as this operating system will be based in Linux, I plan to expose (for those who know how to use it) the Linux command Line and its power (through an option in the main menu).