Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

Reid My Mind Radio – Microsoft Seeing AI – Real & Funky

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

!T.Reid wearing a hat with a "T" while the Seeing AI logo is imposed on his shades!
Okay, I don’t usually do reviews, but why not go for it! All I can tell you is I did it my way; that’s all I can do!
It took a toll on me… entering my dreams…
I’m going to go out on a limb and say I have the first podcast to include an Audio Described dream! So let’s get it… hit play and don’t forget to subscribe and tell a friend to do the same.

Resources:

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:

Wasup good people!
Today I am bringing you a first of sorts, a review of an app…

I was asked to do a piece on Microsoft’s new app called Seeing AI.for Gatewave Radio.

The interesting thing about producing a tech related review for Gatewave is that the Gatewave audience most likely doesn’t use smart phones and maybe even the internet. However, they should have a chance to learn about how this technology is impacting the lives of people with vision loss. Chances are they won’t learn about these things through any mainstream media so… I took a shot… And if there’s anything I am trying to get across with the stories and people I profile
it’s we’re all better off when we take a shot and not just accept the status quo

[Audio from Star Trek’s Next Generation… Captain La Forge fire’s at a chasing craft. Ends with crew mate exclaiming… Got em!]
[Audio: Reid My Mind Radio theme Music]

[Audio: Geordi La Forge from Star Trek talk to crew from enemy craft…]
TR:
Geordi La Forge from Star Trek’s Next Generation , played by LeVar Burton, was blind. However, through the use of a visor he was able to see far more than the average person.

While this made for a great story line, it also permanently sealed LeVar Burton and his Star Trek character as the default reference for any new technology that proposes to give “sight” to the blind.

[Audio: from intro above ending with Geordi saying…
“If you succeed, countless lives will be affected”
TR:
What exactly though, is sight?

We know that light is passed through the eye and that information is sent to the brain where it is interpreted and
quickly established to represent shapes, colors, objects and people.

A working set of eyes, optic nerves and brain are a formidable technological team.
They get the job done with maximum efficiency

Today, , with computer processing power growing exponentially and devices getting smaller the idea that devices like smart phones could serve as an alternative input for eyes is less science fiction and well, easier to see.

There are several applications available that bring useful functionality to the smart phone ;
* OCR or optical character recognition which allows a person to take a picture of text and have it read back using text to speech
* Product scanning – makes use of the camera and bar codes which are read and the information is spoken aloud again, using text to speech
* Adding artificial intelligence to the mix we’re seeing facial and object recognition being introduced.

Microsoft has recently jumped into the seeing business, with their new iOS app called Seeing AI… as in Artificial Intelligence!
There’s no magic or anything artificial about these results, they’re real!

In this application, the functionality like reading a document or recognizing a products bar code are split into channels. The inclusion of multiple channels in one application is already a plus for the user. Eliminating the need to open multiple apps.

Let’s start with reading documents.

For those who may have once had access to that super-fast computer interface called eyes , you’re probably familiar with the frustration of the lost ability to quickly scan a document with a glance and make a quick decision.

Maybe;
* You’re looking for a specific envelope or folder.
* you want to quickly grab that canned good or seasoning from the cabinet.

With other reading applications you have to go through the process of taking a picture and hoping you’re on the print side of the envelope or can. After you line it up and take the picture you find out the lighting wasn’t right so you have to do it again.

Using Microsoft’s Seeing AI you simply point the phones camera in the direction of the text

[Audio App in process]

Once it sees text, it starts reading it back! The quick information can be just enough for you to determine what you’re looking for. In fact, during the production of this review, I had a real life use case for the app.

My wife reminded me that I was contacted for Jury duty and I needed to follow up as indicated in the letter. The letter stated I would need to visit a specific website to complete the process. I forgot to put the letter in a separate area in order to scan it later and read the rest of the details. So rather than asking someone to help me find the letter, I grabbed the pile of mail from the table and took out my iPhone.

I passed some of my other blindness apps and launched Microsoft Seeing AI. I simply pointed the camera at each individual piece of paper until finding the specific sheet I was seeking. The process was a breeze. In fact, it was easier than asking someone to help me find the form. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s glancing!

Now that I found the right letter, I could easily get additional information from the sheet by scanning the entire document. I don’t need to open a separate app, I can simply switch to a different channel, by performing the flick up gesture.

Similar to a sighted person navigating the iPhone’s touch screen interface , anyone can non visually accomplish the same tasks using a set of different gestures designed to work with Voice Over, the built in screen reader that reads aloud information presented on the screen.

Using the document channel I can now take a picture of the letter and have it read back.

One of the best ways to do this is to place the camera directly on the sheet in the middle and slowly pull up as the edges come into view. I like to pull my elbows toward the left and right edges to orient myself to the page. Forming a triangle with my phone at the top center. The app informs you if the edges are in view or not.
Once it likes the positioning of the camera and the document is in view, it lets you know it’s processing.

[Audio: Melodic sound of Seeing AI’s processing jingle]

You don’t even have to hit the take picture button. However, if you are struggling to get the full document into view ,
you could take the picture and let it process. It may be good enough for giving you the information you’re seeking.

If you have multiple sheets to read, simply repeat.

Another cool feature here is the ability to share the scanned text with other applications. That jury duty letter, I saved it to a new file on my Drop Box enabling me to access it again from anywhere without having to scan the original letter

Let’s try using the app to identify some random items from my own pantry.

To do this, I switch the channel to products.

[Audio: Seeing App processing an item from my pantry…]

What you hear, is the actual time it took to “see” the product. All I’m doing is moving the item in order to locate the bar code.
As the beeps get faster I know I am getting closer. When the full bar code is in range, the app automatically takes the picture and begins processing.

[Audio: Seeing AI announces the result of the bar code scan… “Goya Salad Olives”

It’s pretty clear to see how this would be used at home, in the work environment and more.

Now let’s check out the A I or artificial intelligence in this application.

By artificial intelligence, the machine is going to use its ability to compute and validate certain factors in order to provide the user with information.

First, I’ll skip to the channel labeled Scene Beta…
Beta is another term for almost ready for prime time. So, if it doesn’t work, hey,, it’s beta!

Take a picture of a scene and the built in artificial intelligence will do its best to provide you with the information enabling you to understand something about that scene.

[Seeing AI reports a living room with a fireplace.]

This could be helpful in cases like
If a child or someone is asleep on the couch.

[Audio: Action Movie sound design]

I can even picture a movie starring me of course, where I play a radio producer who is being sought by the mob. The final scene I use my handy app to see the hitman approaching me. I do a round house kick…
ok, sorry I get a little carried away at the possibilities.

While no technology can replace good mobility travel skills I can imagine a day where the scene identification function will provide additional information about one’s surroundings.
Making it another mobility tool for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Now for my final act… oh wait it’s not magic remember!

Microsoft Seeing AI Offers facial recognition.
That’s right, point your camera at someone and it should tell you who that person is… Well, of course you have to first train the app.

To do this we have to first go into the menu and choose facial recognition.
To add a new person we choose the Add button.
In order to train Seeing AI you have to take three pictures of the person.
We elected to do different facial expressions like a smile, sad and no expression.
Microsoft recommends you let sighted family and friends take their own picture to get a good quality pic.

The setup requirement, while understandable at this point sort of reduces that sci fi feel.

After Seeing AI is trained, once you are in the people channel
when pointing your camera in the direction of the persons face, it can recognize and tell you the person is in the room.

[Audio: Seeing AI announces Raven about 5 feet in front.]

Seeing AI does a better job recognizing my daughter Raven when she smiles. That too me is not artificial intelligence because we all love her smile!

The application isn’t perfect. it struggled a bit with creased labels, making it difficult to read the bar code.

Not all bar codes are in the database. It would be great if users could submit new products for future use.

As a first version launch with the quick processing, Seeing AI really gives me something to keep an eye on. Or maybe I should say AI on!

Peering into the future I can see;

* Faster processing power that makes recognition super quick,
* Interfacing with social media profiles to automatically recognize faces and access information from people in your network
* lenses that can go into any set of glasses sending the information directly to the application not requiring the user to point their phone
at an item or person and privately receiving the information via wireless headset.
That could greatly open up the use cases.

In fact, interfacing with glasses is apparently already in development and
the team includes a lead programmer who is blind.

Microsoft says a Currency identification channel is coming in the future;
making Seeing AI a go to app for almost anything we need to see!

The Microsoft Seeing AI app is available from the Apple App store for Free 99. Yes, it’s free!

I’m Thomas Reid
[Audio: As in artificial intelligence!]
For Gatewave Radio, audio for independent living!

[Audio: Voice of Siri in Voice Over mode announcing “More”]

I don’t know if that’s considered a review in the traditional sense, but honestly I am not trying to be traditional.

The thing is, thinking about the application started to extend past the time when I was working on the piece…

That little jingle sound the app makes when it’s processing… it started to seep into my dreams…
[Audio: Dream Harp]

[Audio: “Funky Microsoft Seeing AI” An original T.Reid Production]

The song is based around the processing tone used in the app with the below lyrics.

(Audio description included in parens)

(Scene opens with Thomas asleep in bed with a dream cloud above his head)

The processing sound becomes a sound with Claps…

(We see a darkened stage)

(As the chorus is about to begin spotlight shines on Thomas & the band)

Chorus:
Microsoft Seeing AI
Helping people see without their eyes

Microsoft Seeing AI
Helping people see without their eyes

(Thomas rips off his shirt!)

Verse:
Download the app on my iPhone

{Background sings… “Download it, Download it!}

Checking out things all around my home

(Thomas dances on stage)

Point the camera from the front
Huh!
Point the camera from the back!

I’m like;
what’s that , what’s this
Jump back give my phone a kiss!
Hey! (James Brown style yell!)

(Thomas spins and drops into a split)

Chorus:
Microsoft Seeing AI
Helping people see without their eyes

Microsoft Seeing AI
Helping people see without their eyes

(Back in the bed we see Thomas with a fading dream cloud above his head)

Ends with the app’s processing sound.

TR:
Wow, definitely time to move on to the next episode…

With that said, make sure you Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Tell a friend to do the same – I have some interesting things coming up I think you’re going to like.
And something you may have not expected!

[Audio: RMMRadio Outro]
TR:
Peace!

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio – The Blind Temptations

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

EVERY NOW AND THEN I SHARE some of THE THINGS THAT CROSS MY MIND.

In this episode , I’m pointing out the fact that things that should help  us can be the same things that do more than distract us from our goals!

TRANSCRIPT

Show the transcript


TR:
The title of this episode, “The Blind Temptations”, may have you thinking I am announcing my new idea of
touring with four other gentlemen who are blind and singing the classics, like My Girl, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Just My Imagination.

Notice I didn’t include Ain’t too Proud to Beg in that song list.

Maybe you now have images of the famous Motown group doing their dance routines either while holding white canes or guide dogs.

If so, well you’re stupid!.
[Laughs]

No I’m just kidding! you’re probably just silly!

I’m not really talking about those Temptations.

Before I get into that…
[Audio: temptations…. hold up!]
[Audio: rmmradio Theme]

TR:
The Temptations I am referring to are scary to me.

That’s not something I would ever expect to hear myself say out loud and especially here on my podcast, but  it’s true!

Temptations lure a person away from staying on track.

They offer temporary  distraction, a fantasy for something that most likely cannot be attained.

For those going through vision loss or any significant life change; these distractions can be much more tempting.

Think of those who experience sudden job elimination that requires a whole new approach to employment while in mid-career.

Confidence levels are down. Self-identities are challenged.

In such examples, many distractions are accepted in our society or at least they’re understood

Think of the classic I just got fired story.

It’s usually the guy working at the factory for years.  He shows up at the bar after getting the news. He gets a drink on the house first and then his buddies begin buying rounds.

go ahead, get your drink on, you deserve it. the poor guy!

When it comes to adjusting to blindness, there’s a lowering of the bar that takes place. People expect less from the person experiencing the loss. . More than often, it’s those outside of the immediate family. Some times that could include those inside the personal circle or family and friends.

And then let’s not forget that much of the misunderstanding about blindness and what that means for a person could be inside the individual experiencing the loss. They may now limit themselves. Their expectations are impacted and often that means becoming satisfied with less.

“Well, you can’t work so you will now stay home and listen to your radio all day.”

I felt temptations early on after my own loss. When I realized it, it shook me up.

I was in my mid-thirties. I wouldn’t say I was on my way to becoming CEO or even Manager, but I was growing in my career and
reaching some personal and career goals.

My first reaction to vision loss was to push through.

My sight was basically already gone and I had a surgery  scheduled for the end of January, that I knew would leave me permanently blind. Yet, I thought in my mind that I would be back at work by the end of February at the latest.

I find that so funny now!

I didn’t think  about the new things I would have to learn. I didn’t think about issues of accessibility because I simply wasn’t aware of them at that time. My focus was just on continuing where I left off. I didn’t really give that much thought into how would I do things or
even if those things I used to do would still matter to me.

Soon after the temptations began doing the things they do…

[Audio: Temptations, “The Way You Do The Things You Do”]

The first seems almost common today; addiction.

This has always been a fear of mine. ! I have addictive tendencies.
Yes, right now to things like chocolate… I go through binge periods.

I’m not making fun of addiction in any way. I know today addiction to pain killers is looked at quite differently from
let’s say how addictions were viewed when crack was the drug of choice! The substance, shouldn’t matter nor should who the addicts are but that’s another episode topic.

I was given Percoset for the pain following my surgery. I found myself taking them nightly. I soon began noticing a smell after I would ingest the pill.
It didn’t stink nor did it smell good. There was a sweetness to the smell, but
not like candy, cake or chocolate!
Thank goodness because I would be somewhere fiending right now!

It was different.

I began noticing the smell during the day when I didn’t take  the pill. I wasn’t anywhere near the pill.
I’d start thinking about taking the pill and the way it lulled me to sleep. That numb feeling of no pain, worries or problems that seemed of any immediate importance. I soon realized I was taking the pill without even any pain.
it was more about the habit of taking it and the way it carried me away to sleep at night.

It picked me up and placed me on a bed of clouds and off to sleep I went.

When I smelled the scent of the pills during the day I started thinking about  how I now had a pass. Taking the pills to  help relieve me of the nonphysical pain seemed almost acceptable. I began creating  what seemed like reasons that would permit the behavior…

“Well, I’m not working now, I’m alone in the house today.”

“The doctors gave me the pills, I have to use them.”

These were just mental excuses. I was  arguing with myself internally as to why I should take a pill even though I had no physical pain.

“who’s gonna know?”
That was it!  I flushed the rest of the pills and that was the last time I took them.

Temptations come in all forms!

During my first few months of adjusting, I would spend the early part of the day before noon, watching a lot of standup comedy on comedy central.

Stand up is great! It’s mostly accessible as it is usually vocal performances.
It was helpful, it took me out of my own head and made me laugh. That energy release helped me feel a bit more positive.

During that time my television options were limited. I didn’t have much in the way of audio description for television or movies. I didn’t enjoy the movie watching experience unless
I was watching something familiar and
I’m not really the type who likes re-watching a lot  of things.

I think about the access we now have to Netflix and
other options for audio described movies and television.
that could have played into my adjustment.
I could have chosen to spend my time mindlessly watching television or movies all day.

I can hear the excuses in my head now!

“What else am I supposed to do?”

“Watching and analyzing shows or movies gives me some insight into humanity and maybe even my own situation.”

“I’ll watch the movie while I fold the laundry.”

Right now, with shows like Black Mirror on Netflix? I might accept having that bar lowered. Sitting around playing with my iPhone and watching Netflix all day sounds pretty good!

“Don’t do it!”

It’s not just Netflix!

There’s the internet and technology in general too! You know these are real temptations!

At one point it looked like blind people would be barred  from participating in so much of this technology. However, rightfully  so, accessibility improvements are happening. Are they happening fast enough for everyone?
No, but they are happening and we have to acknowledge that.

Even console game makers are thinking inclusively and developing games
that will enable gamers with disabilities including blindness to participate.

I’m not mad at that or any of these “temptations.”

I guess I’m speaking especially to those adjusting to vision loss and who want to make a point of reaching their own goals with their new situation.

The more access we have to things that can improve our opportunities and daily lives the better. It just so happens that these things are potentially the same things that can tempt us into complacency and accepting less of ourselves.

In a way though, isn’t that what accessibility is all about?

Access not only to participate, but to make all of our decisions that affect our lives.

Like choosing to subscribe to this podcast! The show is short in duration! It won’t take you away from  anything. You can fit it in on a quick break or as you’re doing your daily activities; making or eating breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Brushing your teeth. Walking your dog. Whatever it is you do, doing it is better with Reid My Mind Radio!

Subscribe anywhere  you get podcasts.

Shout out to the person who left me a review on iTunes.

I hear that’s the way to help get other people to discover the show. If you can please give me a review as long as it’s good.

No seriously if you are a hater, feel free to hate, but everyone knows haters shouldn’t rate, just discriminate!

I’m good with that!

[Laughs]

Thanks for listening!
[Audio: RMMradio theme]
Peace!

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio: Cradle – The Cancer Detecting Smart Phone App

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

“You make something, it works very well and then you just give it away, as quickly as possible”

– Bryan Shaw

 

Bryan Shaw, after watching his child survive Retinoblastoma or Eye Cancer, develops an app that is already saving lives and sight in children.

 

In this piece for Gatewave Radio and even more included on the RMM Radio version, you will hear all about this Professor’s story and how personal tragedy led to a life changing app.

 

Get the APP on ITunes

Get the App on Google Play

 

Play the story!

 

Resources:

 

“Cheap, functional, reliable things unleash the creativity of people who then build stuff that you could not imagine” – George Whitesides

 

George Whitesides – TED Talk

 

For more on the white eye…Know the Glow

Learn more about those impacted by Retinoblastoma:

 

Reid My Mind Radio – Access To Print – Part 2

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

In this second part look at developments providing access to print for those with vision loss, we hear from Andrew Chepaitis of Elia Life Technology. The Elia Idea is a tactile format with supporting printer and tactile display technology that would like to be an alternative solution for accessing print especially for those who lose their sight as adults and are already familiar with the standard alphabet.

 

As stated in the audio multiple times…this is not a replacement for Braille. The goal is to enable those losing their sight to continue living productive lives.

 

Sleepless in the Poconos

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

There was a time in my life when I subscribed to the motto, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” The idea behind this of course, is an over exaggerated way of declaring an inexhaustible level of energy and tireless work ethic.

 

Working hard of course is honorable and is still a quality I pride. Unfortunately, sleep, the all-important necessity for good physical, mental and emotional health has been lacking in my life for years now.

 

Around 40% of adults in this country do not get the proper amount of sleep.

Doctors recommend – between 7 and 8 hours a night.

 

I was, and still am, one of the adults included in this statistic, albeit for different reasons now.

 

Sleep was something I could do whenever and wherever I had an appropriate opportunity. My daily routine consisted of me waking up in the morning quickly getting ready to head to the gym. I would walk to the bus only to snuggle into a window seat in order to make myself comfortable to catch another hour of sleep. More than often Mr. Sandman would visit before we made it to the second bus stop only a few blocks away.

 

Falling or staying asleep was never a problem for me. That was, until I became blind.

 

Have you ever experienced that moment when you find yourself turning over in the middle of the night searching for that more comfortable position enabling you to fall back into a soothing sleep? If you’re fortunate, you probably don’t really ever think about this, because you do return to a dream state.

 

The problem begins when you realize, you are finished sleeping and it’s only 2:30 or 3 AM. This is really upsetting when it becomes a nightly routine.

 

So called remedies like, Sleepy Time tea, warm milk, or hot baths were not helpful. I later learned of Melatonin. I found it necessary to cycle Melatonin with Tylenol PM on a weekly basis. These really help me stay asleep for a solid 5 hours. I was somewhat satisfied and learned to manage the ever present desire to nap.

 

Check out this video describing a similar experience to my own.

 

I recently decided to participate in the Non 24 hour Sleep Wake Study.

 

Last week I was informed that I qualified for the clinical trial of the drug to aid this sleep disorder.

 

I can’t tell you how much I hope this is going to be an effective solution to this problem.

 

My concentration level has been extremely low. A lacking appetite and what seems to be a decrease in taste. Add short term memory loss and you have the motivating factors moving me to participate.

 

Last night was my first time on the drug. There was an obvious improvement in my sleep, but whether that is due to the medicine or something else remains to be seen. The total quality of my sleep was not much different, but I was able to fall back to sleep when I awoke in the middle of the night. I spent less time awake during the night, but I was still groggy in the morning.

 

As I write this in the late afternoon, I’m feeling like I need a nap, but not as badly as say this same time a week ago.

 

I am looking forward to reporting positive results, but even more importantly I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep!