I can see something like this picking up where the original Braille Plus left off. That was by far my favorite notetaker, which really had a lot of potential to be more than it ultimately was. I hope to see this project succeed. It's true that there isn't as much of a need for notetakers, or many other blindness specific products, as there once was, but not everyone wants a touch screen device. Even if they are using a touch screen for most things, there's still the fact that typing on a touch screen is way slower and more cumbersome than typing on a physical keyboard. Of course, one can just hook a Braille display or bluetooth keyboard to their phone, but in some situations, that's just one more thing to carry around with you, and an all in one device with a keyboard included would make much more sense for productivity reasons.
You've got a good point there Turtlepower, and let me add to that by pointing out that not everyone wants a computer either. I'm not talking just general users, but take a school scenario for example. A vision teacher may not want to throw their students into the world of mainstream computing right away, and may rather they use a consistent notetaker. Could possibly be the reason for the Braillenote's popularity for that setting as the interface was always consistent. It was true that Keysoft on Windows Ce was a tight shell especially in the later Apex, but I could see the benefit from a student perspective. Like I said earlier, the notetaker doesn't pose the necessities of daily computing tasks slow startup time, antivirus, you name it. This device basically provides the best of both worlds. A comfortable environment for that situation, and the full power of Linux for us all. Manuel, I'd definitely recommend ExtFs to anyone using the device and not any of the free alternatives you may find. This is definitely not a you get what you pay for thing, but I've heard reports of read-only access, or filesystem corruption when transferring files with the other lesser known alternatives. Besides, Paragon have been around for a long time, and this is exactly what their field is. They brought us Ntfs support for Mac, so ExtFs is just as solid. I mean, the only other free solution I'd suggest is, uh, getting a Linux installation? But not everyone wants that on their desktop if they don't plan on using Linux as a daily driver on their computer, much less loading up a live cd for a backup or file transfer. ExtFs just make extended filesystems appear just like any other drive in windows explorer or finder.
there's a few things you might want to considder. 1. Being the fact that you're using a linux system for your main OS, that could lose you some money. The reason why, is that, since it's open source, anyone could copy it and make new versions of it, install it on their computers, and not buy the actual product, making you lose money, in the end. Also, because you're designing the parts for the keyboards and such, you're going to have to have a good amount of money to help you make this a good product. The thing that made the BraillePluss not sell very many units was that the note taker market isn't that big. This is, in part why a BrailleNote costs almost 6 thousand US dollars. This is why JAWS costs as much as a new computer. This is why I don't buy JAWs, because, Why bother making my State buy that screen reader when NVDA reads more, is free and doesn't make someone in the end spend ubserd ammounts of money to use a computer. Anyway, back to point. The blind tech market, isn't that big. If you just through your code and stuff out there for everyone to see, it could go one of 2 ways. 1, It could be knocked off and stolen, and you wouldn't make money off of it. 2, it could sell well, making more people buy the note taker, therefore making you a monopoly over the note taker market. This might show the other companies that making people spend enough money to buy a used car, is stupid, and that they would make more money if things were cheaper. Also, more people would be using Linux, which is good, if you make the interface consistant and easy, so not technically educated people don't panic if they see a CLI. Then, people will be more able to use linux, as a whole, making the linux cvommunity grow, more. Now, as far as the hardware goes, You might have to get a license to sell your modified pies, so you don't have the possibility of getting put in a legal war. Good luck.
I think what a lot of people are forgetting is that this notetaker is primarily intended for developing countries, where people probably don't have as much money. In this situation, Linux is really the best way to go, because it's completely free, and can be modified by anyone, so it could create more interest in the open source community.
Also, the Pi is running an ARM processor, so unless people have access to an ARM based PC, I don't think theft will be an issue.
Although, ARM based PCs are becoming more likely, or so I've heard, but it'll probably be a while before we see any of them, if at all.
@28 Exactly because it will be open source it's why it will be more protected against this kind of situations. Say that you want to use the operating system, in fact you could. Being the software open source, nothing would stop you for taking the pieces and put them together for making your operating system as you want. You would do that in a VM, so it won't fix any of the problems a notetaker will fix (because you still would need any linux OS, and would need a PC). If you would like to take that code you will have to respect the GPL license, which means that if you use it, you still need to give me credits for that code, any modification must be given back to the original source, and you can't distribute it under a different license. I am planning to make a dual license so commercial use will be linked against another license, and personal use will be licensed under GPL, like MySql does, for example. So if someone would like to take that code for making his own notetaker and start to sell it without working, this person will have to contact me and talk about the commercial use of the projects that I have done.
Finally I don't think it should be needed, but I still need to protect the work I have done and am doing in these set of projects. I think with A dual license I will allow devs to play with the notetaker as they want, they even could make applications (I am writing something like a set of libraries for drawing widgets and stuff with the interface I am creating for the notetaker) and if they want, they could distribute these apps as open source (or, if everything goes well, I would be willing to make like a store where they could offer paid apps if they like). It's not hard to make apps by using the interface, and there are lots of things that you could code. I am pretty sure this kind of opportunities are harder in other kind of systems and will add something different to this product from the user's perspective. Not only the person who made the device is able to add apps. At least that's how I see the future of the device and that's why I think open source allows much more this kind of scenarios than proprietary OS'S.
Tyler, I don't even think the Pi needs a license to be embedded into other devices. Modifying the board, adding parts, you name it, it's all part of the nature of a diy device. It's why they have the Pi0 which is more suited for embedded devices, but the Pi3 comes with more internals out of the box than the pi0 does, making it more suited for the notetaker. As for commercialization, well this is precisely the same argument that could be had about Android and its open sourced nature. You have the commercial android binary, and then you have the Android Open Sourced Project. But if you think about it, you could build your own android open source project, compile it, sideload Google Apps into it, and you've pretty much built your own Android tablet without the physical device. Sure, it's not a touchscreen tablet, but the software is near completely there. It's how Android x86 was forged. Yet Android phones are still selling strong. Granted, that argument is only half valid for the notetkare market, but this is exactly what I'm talking about. License something under gpl, and it can be copied as long as credit is given. If you think about it, would a technical illiterate *no offense* download a prebuilt image, or even compile the code themselves, or would they buy the notetaker? Yeah, they'd buy the notetaker, and I'm not even gonna sugarcoat, there are more technical illiterates in this day and age then there are literates, *again no offense* because tech as of today is designed to "just work." But that's a separate argument, my point basically is that more people are gonna buy the notetaker, especially in those developing countries.
I agree with that statement, I also think it would be great for college life. Because as you know, carrying around a laptop can be, kind of frustrating, especially if you're like me, and in a wheelchair. Smaller, is better so I truly hope to see this thing see the light of day
The biggest appeal I see for this is actually marketed in other countries where government agencies don't exist, or don't have the budget to buy equipment for their blind students. I do have some questions though. First off, you mentioned 3D printing for the parts, but from what I've seen and heard about it, the parts you get from desktop 3D printers, even ones that cost nearly 2,000 USD, well, the parts you get aren't very strong. What you need for a notetaker is a strong case, because even if you are careful, accidents still can happen, even if you carried the thing around like it was the holy grail, someone else could slam into you, knocking it out of your hand and onto the floor. it would be unfortunate then, since a case made from 3D PLA or ABS plastic probably wouldn't stand up to that. So, my question about that is how do you plan to address durability issues. One thing I can think of us to have a sighted person create a 3D model which could be 3D printed, then the print could be taken to a machinist, or a plastics shop that could manufacture it in a stronger, more durable material. You would need to negotiate a contract with the shop though, since your aim is to manufacture these units in bulk, that would add some money to the final cost, but a little money here and there to make the thing a little more durable I think is a good thing. Second, would this device be able to use Speakup on the shell, like bash or if you wished, zSH? Also, would it be possible to be able to use GTK or QT apps like Audacity, gEdit and Mumble?
I am enthusiastic about this, though I am not in the notetaker space right now, I definitely see that this project has marketability. I think here in the U.S., but definitely in other countries, especially in non-western ones.
Oh, another question, will the notetaker be offered with a builtin display, or is that off the table due to it driving costs up too high?
@ironcross32 3d printing is very complex because there are lots and lots of materials and every day new kind of designs are possible. Currently I am working with a guy who is helping me with 3d printing, he has knowledge about this matter because he works exactly in this industry (though he prints circuitry more than cases). We are going to make a case with more than a layer, being the second of a different material so it won't be so easy to break. Right now the design is done, just need to have more funds so we could think in printing them in a prototype and make some tests in real conditions. About the device, it will include fenrir as the console screenreader, though you still will be able to use the full Linux console if you want, so you could install speakup if needed. The operating system will contain the custom applications I am doing for the project, and a section where you will be able to access to some common applications with Orca (3.22.0 at this time) and the mate desktop 1.14. The applications that will be included by default, besides the desktop environment, will be firefox, libreoffice, thunderbird and teamtalk. More can be added later if they work fine. At the moment I don't plan to add a display, because it would be more expensive, hard to implement with the current setup, and the battery drain will increase at least in 200 or 300%.
Ah, that's good to hear that you've taken durability into consideration, because even the most careful of us can drop or hit things accidentally. I have never heard of this fenrir screen reader, is it in english? I do of course know Orca.
You say you are considering both a QWERTY and a braille keyboard, my question then is if a user chooses a braille keyboard, will grade 2 input be supported?
Fenrir is in English. I've heard demos of the notetaker's software in action and it's English is pretty solid.
yes i agree. I got a RCA galileo pro tablet from walmart with physical keyboard dock and built in screen reader for $80 united states dollars. And with the right apps you got a great note-taker and media player already. the RCA galileo pro works great especially when connected to wired or bluetooth speakers.
why should I pay $300 or so for a notetaker, when I can do the exact same thing with my $80 RCA galileo pro android tablet with talkback screen reader and brailleBack and if I want touch braille, soft braille keyboard app?
why? again I ask why do I need such a notetaker when the RCA galileo pro that runs android and android sits on top of linux. and my galileo pro has a physical keyboard dock and built in screen reader accessible at first setup. you can use brailleBack and accessNote app and many other accessible apps. oh yeah and web browsing on the RCA galileo pro is wonderful with its snap-in-magnetic keyboard dock!!!!
you don't need a note taker. just get one of the RCA android tablets with its magnetic snap in physical keyboard dock. want a tablet? pull up on the screen, the screen detaches from the keyboard and you got a touch screen only tablet. want it to be a laptop or notetaker? just line it up with the pins on the back of the keyboard and snap the screen back onto the keyboard it snaps in with very strong magnets. and voila! you got a nice laptop and notetaker with a real physical keyboard.
hey manuel. I have a suggestion. start your project over. but this time develop your notetaker main menu and apps as a combination android launcher and app suite to go along with it. then just encourage people to go buy RCA voyager or galileo pro larger tablets with magnetic snap in physical keyboard docks. then if folks wish, they could use your self voiceing launcher and app suite. or if they wish they could venture out into the regular android world when they are more comfortable with the device. also take soft braille keyboard and integrate it tightly into the system and make it the default keyboard at startup. then for $100 we could have custom RCA android tablets with your special custom android notetaker rom running on them. android is just linux with the touch interface, launchers apps and some google services and google package manager slapped on top. so please i think it is in your best interest to base your note taker on one of the RCA android tablets with its snap in magnetic physical keyboard dock.
also guys I hardly ever use the touch screen on my RCA android tablet. I keep it snapped into its magnetic snap in physical keyboard dock use it in laptop mode and use the keyboard 95% of the time. i just use touch with some apps i have that are not as keyboard friendly. but nearly all the time i use its physical keyboard especially for typing and web browsing.
also guys I cannot believe that for just $80 united states dollars, I have a great notetaker with magnetic snap in physical keyboard and braille support with the orbit reader20 prototype and brailleback and touch braille with soft braille keyboard if i want touch braille, if I want it, no antivirus needed since it is not rooted at all. I can go anywhere on the web with my RCA blind-accessible notetaker I got from walmart with no fear of viruses at all oh yeah and i use eloquence on my RCA notetaker as its main tts engine but if i wish i can use and buy others. oh and also it has a full size USB port, micro usb, and HDMI port. it also reads my 256gb flash drives no problem. i can read all kinds of ebooks on it including bard books, daisy books, bookshare, and more. google docs sheets and slides work great along with access note for all my notetaker needs. i would love a self-voicing keysoft-like interface for it though with some more accessible apps.
all the stuff you are doing though manuel is already done for you on the play store in google. why not just take android 5.0 or 5.1 or even up to 6.0 custom rom with your own android launcher and app suite and stuff throw it on a RCA tablet with physical keyboard dock and there you go you got a great note taker with additional access to google play store and services and even google classroom and eloquence tts.
I think the guy with the RCA tablet is getting paid. Seriously dude we get the point I think you're going a little too hard with the advertisements. LOL By the way if you're going to do that much advertising give us an Amazon link. Or a link to buy it at Walmart online store.
better off getting it from walmart. just go to walmart.com put in the search RCA tablet and it should be the first result that comes up. I also like it because it comes with google docs sheets and slides and they work good with talkback. I just wish talkback had more keyboard commands for reading fonts and colors, and other commands for reading other stuff in documents like jaws has. it just seems like google android is where the world is headed, that's all.
Manuel, I for one would look forward to owning one of these. For one thing, a tablet with a keyboard dock is too big and takes up too much surface area, especially for those who travel a lot as I do. To be able to have something more along the size of a brailleNSpeak, but as a fully featured linux box appeals to me a lot! I'm also not a phan of Android personally, I have a device or two, but the development and how it works on one device to another is far too disparate for my liking... Never mind the fact that I can have a totally incogneeto PenTesting box running all the time!
If you buy a notetaker made for blind people, you are guaranteed you are getting an accessible product where everything works out of the box. If you get an Android tablet, you might get a modified version of Android which means things might not be accessible. Then one of your apps might be updated and the accessibility is broken.
@Johshk, I'm a little confused here this android tablet comes with a braille display out of the box? Or is that something else you have to buy? I have an android tablet could I set mine up like that?
@Manuel, I just came across this topic it sounds like a great idea. I will definitley buy one when it comes out! I have used notetakers for years and when this is done I would be happy to beta test it for you. I can really put it through it's paces! I'm curious about something are you blind or are you sighted? The reason I ask is because you talked about building this and it sounds very interesting. I'm interested because I'm totally blind I would be interested to know how you work with electronics without being sighted. Also I've never had the oppertunity to use linux distributions (except for android) I'd love to try it out I've heard good things about linux. I'm going to check out the demos later. As far as the braille display please don't add that. I had a BrailleNote a while ago, I dropped it, broke the case, and the braille display went out. I sent it to HumanWare and the cost came up to three thousand dollars to fix it and I couldn't afford it. I'm sure that's happened in one way or another to some of us on this forum. They won't give you a break so I think it would be better and cheaper for all of us to not have a braille display. As much as I love braille these displays are far too expensive. All I'm saying I'm fine with just speech that way you don't have to worry about the displays breaking down. As far as keyboards I would prefer a braille keyboard because I can type faster on a braille keyboard than I can on a qwerty keyboard although having a qwerty keyboard wouldn't be a problem for me. All that aside I just want to say I love this idea for mkSpeech I've read the specifications and it sounds better than any notetaker we have had in years. I can't imagine having an open-source notetaker you don't know how many times I've wished I could remove or make updates to the software of notetakers!
Manuels notetaker does not come with a Braille display, and the Android tablet does not either. Braille back is an app which lets you connect a Braille display to Android.