If you’re like me, you detest most commercials. I primarily watch HuluPlus instead of cable television anymore and the commercials irritate me to no end (usually I lower the volume or simply choose to get up and do something when they’re on) but a few months ago, a series of commercials caught my attention. These were from Verizon and they were promoting an accessibility technology called Velasense that Verizon is integrating into their system.
I have to say, from the videos, I am deeply impressed. Velasense not only uses GPS to help guide visually impaired users to their destination, but even to doors and other structural elements. It has facial recognition built in to not only recognize friends but also tells users what their facial expressions are. It also reads things, like cans, money, newspapers, etc.
I’ve wondered how the visually impaired might be able to use virtual worlds such as Second Life. I realize that screen readers can often pick up text chat, but what about the graphical interface? Seeing technologies like Velasense coming into the marketplace makes me wonder if, someday, these technologies won’t be able to interpret online graphics for their users, painting a picture through descriptions of what is happening on the screen. Such a breakthrough would be amazing, not just for virtual worlds/vr, but online education as we know it.
For more information about Velasense and to see more video of it in action, check out their website and Tumblr.
Originally posted on the Virtual Educator blog.
This week, we’ll be visiting some sites in SL dedicated to science. First, we’ll visit the inworld session area for NPR’s Science Friday which airs weekly on Fridays. Then we’ll head to Genome Island to tour their training areas for students and finally, we’ll experience Virtual Hallucinations.
We’ll meet up at Jaguarland (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Jaguarland%20USA%20Education/128/128/30) at 3pm slt (5 pm central) and head out from there!
Note: Tours venture into Mature as well as PG sims. If you are not able to access Mature rated sims (if you are below 18 years of age), you will not be able to fully participate in these tours.
First, we’ll drop in on the Science Friday program area which streams the show weekly and sometimes takes questions from the SL audience.
Next, we’ll head to Genome Island.
Genome Island is run by Texas Wesleyan University and supports genetics classes for university students studying biology.
From the rez point, we’ll walk up the hill. Look for the hovering block with the question mark on it. Click for a tour chair. Sit and click again for a guided tour of the island.
Once the chair derezzes, look for another box with a question mark. This will give you the guided tower tour chair. This chair will derez at the Gene Pool.
Look for another box with a question mark for the next tour leg. We’ll end with the abbey section tour.
Need more information? There’s a notecard full of information back at the rez point.
Finally, we’ll visit the Virtual Hallucinations Lab, sponsored by University of California, Davis.
The Virtual Hallucinations Lab was designed to allow visitors to experience some of what those with schizophrenia live with–visual and audio hallucinations. Info cards can be picked up at the entrance.
We also need to pick up and wear a badge which will produce the audio hallucinations. As we enter, each visitor needs to select their gender for the correct audio. Look for the blue pyramid shapes for info about the experience.