The first thing I learned, was to turn on the light

The first thing I learned, was to turn on the light

I don’t use light in my house. I can’t see it, sometimes it doesn’t occur to me until someone comes over and asks for the stuff. Then I can tell an old joke that still gets a chuckle one time in ten, and go turn on the lamp I keep for just such occasions.

I put on this pair of smart glasses. They’re sort of like having a smart phone strapped to your face. I’m told the display is rather nifty; though of the two people who have checked it out, one complained of eyestrain, stinging in his eyes from the very close, slightly too bright light; and the other wears prescription glasses, so the display ended up rather blurry for him.

There are two little lenses, one for each eye, and they mean nothing to me. While wearing these things, I tend to keep my eyes closed, if I happen to think of it at all, since I don’t want to cook my eyes and have them start to sting. That’s the same reason I wear the classic dark sunglasses—even though I can’t see the sun, it still hurts my eyes. On my phone, there’s a way to turn the screen light off but keep the phone on and still reacting to commands, but I haven’t figured out whether or not I can do the same thing for the glasses.

To control these things, there’s this switch on the top of the left leg. You can push it forward or back, or you can push the whole thing downward, down into the leg like stabbing a pole into the ground. This gives you much less control than in a smartphone, and it’s already caused problems.

The model I have are the vision 800 smart glasses, built by some company I’ve never heard of before. They’re running Android, which is an operating system for your smart-ass phone, and other little smart-ass devices. You can make these little smart asses talk. Android was kind enough to include a way for blind people to use their devices, and make it part of the default installment. All you have to do is activate it, and the device will talk to you, reading out things like what button your on. For a touch screen, while you’re running your finger across it, when your finger hits an icon, it reads it aloud. Then you can tap it to activate it, or keep searching the screen for whatever you were really looking for.

I’m not endorsing android here, I understand most such operating systems have something roughly the same that does roughly the same thing. However, I do want to say thanks.

Thanks Android.

The first part of my mission was to make the smart glasses talk to me. To do that, I had to corner someone with a working set of eyes, and talk them into it. I’ve got different folk who assist me. I usually pay them, as a matter of respect for them and myself.

The first attempt didn’t get very far. With just that funny little rocker switch thing, we couldn’t reach the “OK” button. We tried plugging in a mouse, but it didn’t seem to work. My brother was in town, and he’s good with tech, relative to other friends and relatives. When we tried it, we ended up in the same spot, unable to push the “OK” button without plugging a mouse in. This time, the mouse actually worked, so the “OK” button got pushed, and the glasses started talking.

The next part of the mission was to install the vOICe for android. I plugged a keyboard into the USB port of the glasses. I had a keyboard on my lap, and its cord was plugged into the right leg of the glasses I was wearing, while little earbuds were stuck in my ears. My brother told me I looked “Super cyber.” I’m not sure how to take that, but, “OK” button.

After some issues with reception, and a scramble to figure out a user name and password I haven’t used in a while, I downloaded and installed the vOICe. The vOICe is an app that takes images from a camera, and turns them into sound. To get an idea how it works, you can checkout a demo I made back when I was running the vOICe on my phone. You can also checkout the vOICe website for much more information, or to download a copy to play with. The last part of my mission, was to take the vOICe for a drive.

It was running, but it was silent. I didn’t realize how dark my room is, even on a sunny day. It took a couple of seconds to remember that things that react to light need light to react to. First, I turned on my monitor, since it was right there. That let me hear that the screen was glowing, and look at my keyboard. I turned it right back off and turned on the lamp previously reserved for the use of sighted guests. Now my room actually had things to look at. As I wandered through the rest of the house, I kept flipping lights on and off, just to hear the difference.

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