Object recognition with Google Glass

When I first heard about Google Glass I imagined a future when Glass could assist in labelling objects in the environment. Well it seems that future might be rapidly approaching

Neurence has created a cloud based platform called Sense, which uses pattern based machine learning to identify objects within an environment. This system can be utilised on a number of devices including Google Glass.

Through pattern recognition the cloud based platform is able to recognise objects within the environment such as signs. This has incredible implications for the VI community and as the platform expands and adds more objects to its database it will only functionally be of greater value.

What really intrigues me about this device is how it can fit an incredible purpose for the VI community but is aimed squarely at a different market. As they are attempting to make the next generation of search – which read more

Google Cardboard – Adding vision to the blind

As Google Cardboard surpasses the 500,000 mark it reminded me of a possible interesting use for the VI community.

A big issue related to loss of sight is contrast, as vision deteriorates the outside world often lacks enough contrast to adequately identify objects. However, this can in many cases be overcome by observing the same scene through a backlit screen. For example, a couple of years ago my son received a Duplo train for christmas. Due to my sight loss I was unable to see the track. However, my wife used Apple’s AirPlay to mirror what she was viewing onto the TV screen. This increased level of contrast meant I could help build the track. It may seem strange that I cannot see the track when looking directly at it, but can through a screen. But thanks to the increased contrast I can identify outlines.

This is where cardboard could offer some interesting visual cues to the VI. read more

Boston to NYC – The Line

While running with a friend I had a little flashback to a moment from my Boston to NYC adventure. As my friend and I ran down a road I was using my usual trick of feeling the line underfoot, when I remembered a moment from the roads of Connecticut.

It was when I began to really think about running the line. My guide was off in front with the simple instruction, “follow the line Simon!”. Everyone in the group including myself readily accepted my ability to feel the line and stick to it, one foot wrong and I would be facing the enormity of the american traffic. For a single moment I realised just how high risk the belief in my ability was. But that was it, one single passing moment of “I cant see and I am just feeling this line!” and then it faded away. I quickly flicked back into the moment and carried on chatting to my guide out read more

Reading a book to my children

A wonderful article about Nas Campanella, blind newsreader over at Broadsheet.com

Her studio is equipped with strategically placed Velcro patches – she operates her own panel – so she can recognise which buttons to push to air news grabs and mute or activate her mic. While she’s reading on air, that same electronic voice reads her copy down her headphones which she repeats a nanosecond later. In another ear the talking clock lets her know how much time she has left. The sound of her own voice is audible over the top of it all.

Reminded me of a problem I have in my life. Reading books to my children. I have often thought about using a tiny in ear wireless headphone, such as the Earin to solve this problem. It’s interesting to hear someone is using this on a daily basis in their work life. The article is also well worth a read as Nas’s attitude is read more

Dream to Reality

A few years ago I began to think of a few adventures I would love to embark on. I came up with three: The Pilgrimage, The Return and The Dream. Late last month I was fortunate enough for The Pilgramage to become a reality.

The basic premise of The Pilgrimage was to pay homage to RunKeeper and visit a city close to my heart – NYC. The dream was to run from the HQ of RunKeeper in Boston, to NYC then compete in the NYC marathon. The idea to visit the RunKeeper HQ was to thank them for where I am today. Their app enabled me to believe running solo was possible, the reason NYC? I spent a bit of time there, while I could still see. Therefore, the city remains close to my heart.

The adventure was made possible by a few select companies, namely Twitter, PayPal and AirBnB, Little did I know that partnering with AirBnB would elevate the read more

The adventure continues….

A little over 4 years ago I decided on a career change. The idea – to study psychology and begin a career within the clinical realm. This was a great departure from my previous career in network management and was something I was greatly excited about.

Slightly earlier in the year I had silenced the thoughts of quitting climbing the half dome, by learning to run solo outdoors. This was in part thanks to RunKeeper as well as my ability to memorise the feeling underfoot.

So the week my son was born, I thought it a great idea to increase my training to the ultra distance as well as beginning college to start my new career. I managed to juggle training between feeds, work during Grayson sleeping and spending time with my son. I managed to juggle this to such success that I began competing at the ultra distance and left college with the read more

Guide running

For first time guide runners the thought of guiding someone who cannot see can be scary. Essentially guide running is not difficult, you just have to do what you would normally do while running, be aware of your surroundings. The only difference is you have to account for being at least as wide as yourself and the person you are guiding.

This means any obstacles you would normally avoid, be it a post, tree branch, another runner, all need to be avoided, by taking into account your fellow runner. Of note, is that your fellow runner may be slightly taller than you, so watch out for branches that you may normally avoid!

The other key element is communication, note when you are going to move to avoid an obstacles, and highlight serious dips or raises in the running path. Kerbs and tree roots have to be avoided, this is something that read more

The Bradley Timepiece, a watch for the blind (& sighted!)

Back when I had useful vision, I adored collecting watches. In particular I had a penchant for unique faces and unique ways of displaying the time. My collection varied from flashing LED watches from Tokyo Flash to a Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute. So, when I lost my useful vision and had to begin to buy talking watches I was gutted. I had gone from fine crafted Breitling to a cheap £40 piece of plastic (arguably the Tokyo Flash watches were cheap, but at least they were interesting).

The talking watches would break continuously, I would often forget to remove it when bathing my son and it would break. After this had happened 3 times, I just decided to give up on having a wrist watch. I resorted to using my phone as my new timepiece, this had a number of drawbacks however. I would have to remove it from my pocket to tell the time. It was far read more

Help a blind runner get from Boston to NYC!

This year I will finally run my first marathon, in NYC. Before I even ran I had dreamed of running NYC, it is also one of the cities I visited while I still had sight, so it always feels special whenever I return. It is also tantalisingly close to Boston, the birthplace of RunKeeper – the running app that made running solo outdoors as a blind runner possible.

So I had an idea, why not run from Boston to NYC, then compete in the NYC marathon? And to make it even more special, why not connect with people on social media to help me along the way. That is the plan and I am reaching out to the internet to help make it happen!

The Adventure

The plan is to arrive in Boston around mid to late october and begin running an average of 30 miles a day, for 10-13 days (distance varies depending on final route chosen). I plan to break the run read more

Google Glass – A blind perspective

Over the past few weeks, I have been playing around with Google Glass. It has been a wonderful experience, and I incredibly hopeful for the future opportunitIes that Glass can offer. As soon as I placed Glass on my face, I was reminded of the sensation of wearing glasses. The weight is similar to wearing a pair of prescription glasses. I quickly snapped a photo and was amazed with the simplicity of the hands free use.

Outdoors with Glass I had my first experience of navigation. I was able to issue a voice command and have the directions read aloud through the bone conduction ear piece. It was a nice hands off experience of navigating, while it is visually obvious I am wearing Glass, I felt this usage made me blend into the crowd. I didn’t have to remove a phone from my pocket and clumsily type a location or issue a voice command, I read more