Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.
New Jordy with Marc Stenzel VP of Sales – Enhanced Vision
Enhanced Vision | www.enhancedvision.com | 888-811-3161
Google is Threatening to Remove Apps with Accessibility Services from the Play Store http://bit.ly/2AJ8Xol
App: Memries | www.BridgingApps.org
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MARC STENZEL: Hi, this is Marc Stenzel. I’m the vice president of sales for Enhanced Vision, and this is your Assistive Technology Update.
WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs. Welcome to episode number 338 of assistive technology update. It’s scheduled to be released on November 17, 2017.
Today I have a conversation with Marc Stenzel who is the vice president of sales at Enhanced Vision about the new Jordy. Also something Google is doing, threatening to remove apps with accessibility services from the play store — what? And an app from our friends over at BridgingApps called Memories. We hope you check our website at www.eastersealstech.com, give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124, or hit us up on Twitter at INDATA Project.
Brian Norton is the host of the increasingly popular show assistance technology frequently asked questions, or ATFAQ. Hey Brian.
BRIAN NORTON: Hey, how’s it going?
WADE WINGLER: It’s going well. I wanted to do a quick plug on this show about your show. I know there are a lot of questions and maybe some answers on ATFAQ.
BRIAN NORTON: Just a few good answers for sure. ATFAQ, Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, is a show where we take an assistive technology question from all over the world and set around as a team and try to answer those as best we can. We rely on feedback from the folks who are listening.
WADE WINGLER: As I’m looking at your most recent shows, some of the questions that seem to be asked were Hebrew text to speech on an iPhone or android phone; doing tactile graphics of the United States on iOS; and some things about reminders and apps to complete activities of daily living. I guess these questions are all over the map in terms of what they cover car right?
BRIAN NORTON: They are pretty random questions. We try our best to do research and a lot of answering, relying on everybody who listens to help us formulate a well-rounded answer.
WADE WINGLER: And your show comes out every other week, twice a month, and runs around an hour or so each time and has a panel of either our inside experts or sometimes we invite a guest or two.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s right.
WADE WINGLER: Where can folks find your show if they are looking for it?
BRIAN NORTON: They can find in a variety of places. Obviously iTunes, you can look it up on iTunes, stitcher, anyplace you typically look for podcast.
WADE WINGLER: And also ATFAQshow.com is a jumpstart place to get to that section of our website. Excellent. Thank you very much. Your show is now on episode 65. That’s a lot of episodes.
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, we’ve been doing it for a little while, almost 2 years now.
WADE WINGLER: Thanks Brian
WADE WINGLER: So there’s an interesting headline from XGA developers, an android developer blog. The headline reads, “Google is threatening to remove apps with accessibility services from the play store.” I have to say I blinked when I saw it. Then I realize what’s happening. This article gets into some technical details that says that some developers of android apps are using the services designed for assistive technology or accessibility to make apps do things that the android platform wasn’t designed. If you think about the accessibility features and mobile devices, they do intercept the keyboard and touchscreen and sometimes the external buttons in an unusual way to make life easier for people who use those accessibility or assistive features.
However, other developers are saying they are creating accessibility features. What they are actually doing is doing unusual things. One example is in a music player, making the volume up button turned into the next song button so that it confuses people or get them to move past the song. There are a lot of examples in this article about how people might use an assistive or accessibility service to do something that’s not related to that.
What Google is doing is reaching out to the developers and saying, hey, you can’t do that anymore. If you’re going to develop an app and use accessibility services, it really has to be for an accessible or assistive technology purpose. They are giving them a 30 day window to pull their apps or remove those inappropriate use of accessibility services or they are going to be pulled from the App Store. On one hand, I understand how app developers might have used these accessibility services to do something creative and out-of-the-box. On the other hand, they’re not exactly doing what the accessibility services were intended to do.
Interesting stuff. If you want lots of examples and the technical nitty-gritty, I’m going to pop a link in the show notes over to XGA developers blog, and you can see more about what’s happening as Google is threatening to remove apps with accessibility services from the play store. Check our show notes.
WADE WINGLER: Each week, one of our partners tells us what’s happening in the ever-changing world of apps, so here’s an app worth mentioning.
AMY BARRY: This is Amy Barry with BridgingApps, and this is an app worth mentioning. This week’s featured app is called memorize. It’s a language learning app. Join over 15 million people worldwide, explore new words and phrases, and learn how to speak, read, and write in French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and a host of other exciting languages. With next-generation mobile learning, a rich variety of games, chat bots, and over 30,000 native speaker videos, memorize provides an innovative approach to foreign language learning.
There is so much to love about this app. Whether you are a parent, teacher, friend, or child learning a new language, using the app is a great beginning. We give two thumbs up for the ability to select other topics other than just learning the language and a really neat feature that allows users to use an option called explore. This allows you to use your smart device camera. You point the camera at an object, and the app identify the object, allowing the user to see the word and click on the speaker to hear the pronunciation. Our users agree that, even though the accuracy was sometimes a little off, this was still a great way to explore new vocabulary in the language they are learning.
The top five reasons to download memorize: courses are expertly created by a dedicated team of linguist and language specialist. Number two, beginner and advanced content is designed to push the boundaries of learning technologies pure number three, native speaker videos for language learning and context. These are not actors, just real people. Number four, the chat bots will help you sound out natural and hone your conversational flow. Number five, the variety of games to help you learn and practice, including speed review, listening skills, difficult words, and classic review.
Memorize is available for free at the iTunes and Google play stores and is compatible with iOS and android devices. For more information on this app and others like it, visit BridgingApps.org.***
WADE WINGLER: A number of years ago, a product hit the market in the world of assistive technology pure there were endless Star Trek jokes because Jordy Laforge was a character who wore a visor. When I heard in my younger part of my assistive technology career that there was going to be a thing called a Jordy, we were all excited. I’m a bit nerdy and do like Star Trek. I made my learning at that point doing stuff in the field of assistive technology and low vision.
I was excited to learn not long ago that the product that I recall from that time period was coming back on the market and had some new attributes. I couldn’t help but reach out to our friends at enhanced division and say, “Would you guys come on and talk to us a little bit about Jordy and what’s new with that?” I’m so excited today to have my friend Mark Stenzel who is the vice president of sales at enhanced vision come on today and talk about Jordy.
Mark, welcome to the show.
MARC STENZEL: Thinks Wade. It’s great to be part of it.
WADE WINGLER: You and I were reminiscing in the preinterview just a little bit. You and I have been in the field of assistive technology for a while. I think I’m the baby of the group in terms of tenure. But tell us just a little bit about yourself, and I’m going to ask you about the original Jordy. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
MARC STENZEL: I started in the industry in 1974 with a company that some of your listeners may remember, called visual tech. I was with them for many years, moved on to Tella Century, which was a leader in the industry for 30 years, sadly went out of business about 12 years ago. I most recently joined enhanced division where I’ve been the VP of sales for almost 13 years that’s where I am currently.
WADE WINGLER: It’s been a while. Tell me a little bit about the original Jordy. When did it come out? I tell you the exact date, but I bet you know.
MARC STENZEL: The original Jordy was introduced into the market in the late 90s and was on the market for about five or six years. Unfortunately it was discontinued because a key component which was available at that time only from one manufacturer in the world went obsolete. I was not associated with enhanced vision at that time, but as I understand it, the company could not find an acceptable replacement parts. Sadly we had to discontinue the distribution and development and production of the Jordy. Now of course we brought it back up your
WADE WINGLER: We are talking about it like it’s an old friend, and I think it kind of is. For some folks in our audience, they may not even be familiar with what Jordy is and what it was. Why don’t we start with that? Let’s focus on the new one because I know there will be some parallels. What is Jordy?
MARC STENZEL: Happy to do that. You can think of the Jordy as a wearable low vision device. Many of your listeners are familiar with the term CCTV, or closed-circuit TV, a video magnifier. So you can think of a Jordy as a video magnifier but one that you actually wear rather than one that sits on your desktop. The two key features of the Jordy that I would like to point out – and I know we will go into some of the others later – is that it’s designed for somebody with moderate to severe visual impairment who has a need to read material up close and see things at a distance. There aren’t many devices that do well at distance. Lots of devices do very well up close but not so well for distance. Jordy is exceptional in that respect.
WADE WINGLER: I know we are talking about low vision. Are there particular kinds of low vision diagnoses that you find are associated with success with Jordy, or is it all across the board?
MARC STENZEL: I think it’s across the board. I think it depends on what the low vision individual wishes to accomplish, what their objectives are, and how motivated they are. Unlike with a CCTV, which you can sit in front of or pick up and use virtually immediately, Jordy requires some training and adjustment. Wearing something on your head as a wearable device is a very different experience than using what I would call a traditional CCTV.
WADE WINGLER: Let’s get into some of the features. Let’s do the run down. And while we are doing that, if there are any way to highlight some of the new features versus the older model, that would be great as we go.
MARC STENZEL: I’ll try to do that. Let me tell you what the current features are that I think are most important. First, it uses an HD camera, a high definition camera. It’s all optical, not digital. Optical provides typically much more clarity, a much clearer image, both when looking at things near as well as far. That’s really very important. The combination of optical and high definition is very important. The Jordy, just like the original one, has adjustable magnification. You can go from about three times up to 30 times magnification. The magnification is adjustable. You have color select features that are typical of all of our CCTV’s. It also includes a locator which allows you to find things more easily when you are wearing the Jordy. There is a freeze-frame and also focus the lock. It is a dual display with a 30 degree field of view. That’s very important as well. You can adjust the Jordy on your head. Some people’s heads are bigger, some smaller. Jordy is adjustable to accommodate for that. It includes two very important features. One is a glare shield that inserts into the front of the Jordy. So if you are using it outside on a bright day, you can insert the glare shield and that helps to cut down on the glare from your peripheral vision. My favorite accessory is an optical insert which is included. The user can take it up to their optometrist or optician, have it fitted with their prescription, and insert that into the Jordy so you can use the Jordy with your glasses or without, whatever the user prefers.
Jordy only weighs eight ounces, so it is quite light. It also comes with two different battery options. You can have a four or eight hour battery. The price differential is quite insignificant. You can get through an entire day if you are a student or businessperson utilizing the battery.
Another feature that people are starting to like is the ability to use Jordy to watch television. You can do in one of two ways. You can put the Jordy on and simply look at your TV, or through a provided HDMI cable can connect the cable directly from the cable box into your headset and watch TV directly on the headset. People are becoming aware of that and really enjoying the future.
WADE WINGLER: It sounds like there are some traditional features that I would expect you to talk about and some few that made my eyebrows arise and say, wow, that’s nice. I have to assume that there are people who use the old version of the Jordy and are now using the new ones. What are the big differences those people are talking about? How much better is the new one?
MARC STENZEL: I think what we are hearing – and the Jordy has been on the market since late August, a few months. What we are hearing most is that people see the quality of the image, especially for distance viewing, just as well near tasks, much superior to the original Jordy because of the fact that we are using optical rather than digital magnification and have installed 18 cameras into the device.
WADE WINGLER: I’m sure that really does provide a good image. I’m glad you mentioned optical zoom. I’ve had many other kinds of technologies with digital zooms. As it pixelates and gets difficult to see, that can be a frustration. That optical zoom is great.
MARC STENZEL: I agree, especially for people who are visually impaired where the quality of the image is essential. To use a digital image for those that are not visually impaired may be just fine, but if you have a vision loss, the optical image is clearly superior.
WADE WINGLER: A lot of people that listen to the show and our other show, assisted technology frequently asked questions, know our vision team lead here. Her name is Belva Smith and she’s been working in the world of low vision technology for a long time. She had a question that she wanted to ask. On the old Jordy, there was a docking station that kind of turned it into a desktop video magnifier. Is that something that’s available on the new Jordy as well? If not, are you looking to do that?
MARC STENZEL: That’s an excellent question. Our intention was to introduce the docking stand that converts the Jordy into a CCTV. Our intent was introduced that at the same time as the Jordy. For various manufacturing reasons – and anyone involved in the manufacturing environment knows that things don’t always go as planned – that was not available at the same time that the Jordy was ready. We made the decision that we wanted to get the Jordy out there because, on its own, it works perfectly well. People were clamoring for it and it had been long enough and was ready.
We introduced the Jordy in August. The plan was that docking stand would follow within a few weeks. Our schedule now is to start delivery of the docking stand in mid to late November. It’s coming. The design is done. We are buttoning up the last few issues and expect to be able to release that sometime in November.
WADE WINGLER: We are recording a little ahead of that, so by the time this comes out, it might be around that time. I would encourage people to look. If they were going to check, is there a website they should check to find that out?
MARC STENZEL: You can go to our website which is www.EnhanceVision.com, or you can certainly call our toll-free number which is 888-811-3161. I don’t know that will necessarily put an update out there, but when it is available, it will appear on the website. I would say, given the timing of the interview, when it will appear, I think that might work out just fine. I think we will have it ready by then.
WADE WINGLER: Excellent. Another one of our staff members, Anna, had a couple of questions. One I think is pretty straightforward. Is there some way to do a trial period with the new Jordy or to check it out before you were to make an investment in it?
MARC STENZEL: Absolutely. There are a couple of ways to do that. We work with independent distributors throughout the country. In Indiana, Jim Portman through Vision Aids Systems represents us. We have folks like him in almost every state and major city. Anybody who would like to see the Jordy can give us a call and we can put them in touch with their local representative. There is no cost or application for requesting a demonstration. If that color is legitimately interested, our representative will come to their home or office to show it to them. In addition, all of our products and supplies, not only to Jordy but any product from enhanced vision, there is a 30 day moneyback guarantee. So if somebody buys the product, it doesn’t work out for them, and want to return it, they have 30 days to do so with no restocking fee. Assuming the product is in good condition, we will take it back and refund their purchase price.
WADE WINGLER: I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t do a little plug for our lending library here as well. We have the assistive technology act program for the state of Indiana, and we have a lending library. I know we plan to have at least one Jordy for folks to check out in our collection. There may be a lending library in our listener areas as well that they will want to check out.
Under the question I had from Anna is a business question. What’s the competitive advantage when we look at Jordy compared to some of the other headmounted wearable vision technologies that we are seeing on the market coming out these days?
MARC STENZEL: That’s an excellent question. One of your earlier question was what is different between the current Jordy and the old Jordy. I would say one of the things is that currently in the market today there are so many other choices in terms of wearable devices; whereas when Jordy was first introduced, I think we were unique in that regard. The marketplace, as it does for everything these days, has changed dramatically. There are lots of choices in wearable devices.
I would say there are at least three important features. One is that the Jordy is designed and assembled in the United States by an American company, enhanced vision. I think that might be important for some of your listeners here in North America. The other is the optical quality that we have already talked about. If you have the opportunity to compare Jordy to almost any other wearable device, you will quickly agree that the image quality is superior. Pricewise, I think we are very competitive compared to virtually everything in the market today. If you would like, I share the pricing information.
WADE WINGLER: Perfect segue. That was going to be my next question. Go ahead.
MARC STENZEL: I mentioned earlier there is a Jordy with an eight hour or four hour battery. The price differential is a small. The Jordy with eight hour battery $3,695 – that’s the suggested retail price. The Jordy with four hour battery is $3620 – that’s for a complete system. Having said that, we talked about the Jordy docking stand. That is an additional $875. If you want the Jordy docking stand, you need to order that separately at an additional cost. Other than shipping, there is no other cost involved in the purchase price of the Jordy and docking stand.
WADE WINGLER: We already mentioned that the Jordy itself is already out and the docking station is going to be coming out somewhere around the time of airing the show.
MARC STENZEL: Yes.
WADE WINGLER: Are there situations where Jordy is not the right solution? Are there certain kinds of visual conditions or use cases that you would steer people away from Jordy where it might not be the best solution?
MARC STENZEL: That’s a very good question. I think I would refer to Jordy – if I use the term – almost as an “acquired taste” in the sense that you certainly need to try it. That’s why we have a nationwide network of distributors and sales representatives who will give the user an opportunity to try it. You have to be able to tolerate something on your head. For some people, they are simply uncomfortable with having anything on their head. A lot of people think the Jordy is like a pair of glasses, and it certainly is similar to a pair of glasses but can’t because of its size and the fact that it weighs eight ounces, it’s a little bigger than the average pair of glasses. You have to be able to tolerate something on your head. You have to be able to manipulate the controls, because there is a control box that is included with the Jordy. I don’t think I mentioned that. The battery is actually integrated into the control box, which you can then put on your belt. You don’t have to hold the control box while you are using it. You have to be able to tolerate something on your head, be able to manipulate really simple controls – magnification, changing background and foreground, freeze-frame, and using the find feature. Of course, we will train anybody. That is included in the price.
WADE WINGLER: I know that Jordy is a new or revitalize thing that Enhanced Division is spending a lot of time on right now, but I also know it’s not the only thing you guys are doing. We’ve got another minute or so in the show. You tell me some of the other things that are happening with Enhanced Vision these days.
MARC STENZEL: We are definitely working on new products and product features. Typically we don’t announce those until they are ready. Your viewers may be interested to know we have a wide variety of video magnifiers. Everything ranging from things like vision Pro, which has been a tremendous success in the marketplace, that indicates a CCTV with OCR capability, optical character recognition. We also have portable devices in both the Amigo and Pebble lines. Some of your listeners may be familiar with that. We continue to upgrade those products with new software and capabilities.
WADE WINGLER: Before we finish out the interview, tell me one more time. If people wanted to learn more about Jordy or Pebble or da Vinci or other products you guys have, what is their best course of action? What contact information should they use?
MARC STENZEL: They should call 888-811-3161. Or go to www.EnhancedVision.com. We will be happy to assist them.
WADE WINGLER: Marc Stenzel is the vice president of sales at Enhanced Division and has been our guest today. Thanks so much for being on our show.
MARC STENZEL: Thank you. It’s always good to talk to you.
WADE WINGLER: Wait, before you go. This is Wade Wingler. I’m the host of Assistive Technology Update. Thank you for listening. We are working with a group of researchers from Indiana University to make all of our content easier to find and more convenient to access. Can you help us out? We have a survey we would like you to take it won’t take long. We are going to ask you a few questions about how you like to consume podcast, blog posts, and YouTube content. It will be open through December 2017. You can find the survey at www.eastersealstech.com/survey. We would really appreciate it if you could help us out and take a few minutes to take our survey. Thank you.
WADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to www.EasterSealstech.com. Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at AccessibilityChannel.com. That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.
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