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Happy holidays from the Assistive Technology Center at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is your Assistive Technology Update.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s that wonderful time of the year where we all get together and talk about the season and all of the things we are looking forward to getting and giving this holiday season. I want to welcome back some old friends, some new friends — maybe?
WADE WINGLER: Old for sure.
BRIAN NORTON: We could be new.
JOSH ANDERSON: It is a holiday episode of Assistive Technology Update. First I want to welcome Nikol who we’ve pulled out of Halloween to come to us today. Welcome.
NIKOL PRIETO: Hi, how are you? So we are recording before Thanksgiving when this goes out.
JOSH ANDERSON: Which makes her mad every year.
NIKOL PRIETO: So tomorrow is Halloween, my favorite holiday, so we are just skipping flying past that. My name is Nikol Prieto. I’m the community outreach coordinator. I guess I’m in the “old” category because I’ve done every holiday podcast.
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s why we’ve got you here. And a voice you might all recognize, Wade Wingler.
WADE WINGLER: Hey everybody. How are you? Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy shopping. All that holiday stuff. I love holidays.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s great to have you back in the studio. And the popular host of Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, Mr. Brian Norton is in the studio. Welcome.
BRIAN NORTON: Hey, welcome.
JOSH ANDERSON: That they?
BRIAN NORTON: Well, no. I’m very excited to be here today. It’s the holidays. I cannot wait. We are going to put up Christmas decorations the week after Halloween, so next week. I’m all about this time. Give me lights, give me trees, give me ornaments, give me reindeer, little baby Jesus in my yard. I’m all about it.
WADE WINGLER: There you go.
JOSH ANDERSON: We will be giving up Brian’s phone number at the end of the show just in case you need any help putting up the lights. Since he’s doing his early, to keep them open after this giving.
WADE WINGLER: Or his home address. You can just go look up Brian’s lights and not worry about your own.
JOSH ANDERSON: Even better. You can come to the garage in case you want to see the inside.
BRIAN NORTON: I’ve got my code. My garage code will be in the show notes.
[2:27] Snow on Christmas
JOSH ANDERSON: Just to get started, let’s start off by talking about snow on Christmas. Is that necessary? Is it nice to have? Or is it just a Holly Jolly pain in the rear? Nicole, I know you don’t even like the season.
NIKOL PRIETO: I like white Christmas, that day only. And the only other time I want to see snow is at a ski resort. That’s it. One day. It’s pretty, it’s peaceful. You can stay home and observe it through your window. I enjoyed it.
BRIAN NORTON: I would tend to agree. Snow in general, it depends on how much snow. If it’s an inch or two, I’m fine with it. But when it starts getting difficult to drive and I really do have to go out there and shovel my driveway and my sidewalk and stuff like that, then it becomes a little bit more of a pain. I do love snow, but it depends on how much.
WADE WINGLER: Bring the snow. Bring all the snow. I love the snow. I love a white Christmas, absolutely love when that happens. But for almost 10 years, I’ve been driving a tiny Honda Fit, and this summer I bought a four-wheel-drive pickup truck, so I am so ready for snow this year. I want to be able to climb snowdrifts and drive around and all that kind of stuff. I love snow at Christmas. I think it’s awesome.
JOSH ANDERSON: I have to agree. I think on Christmas it’s fine, but if I have to go somewhere or family has to come over — my mom drives a Camaro so she can come over if it snows at all. That real will drive does not go very far in the snow. It is nice to sit in and look at. I guess it has to be cold, it’s nice to have the snow. But I’m with you, Nicole. They can melt and be gone the next day and we can be up to 70.
[4:12] New Apple Watch 4 – $300 – $400
JOSH ANDERSON: As we get into the new assistive technology and just cool check that there is out there, let’s start off with wearables, just because that’s a big thing. A lot of folks are getting those and giving those this holiday season. One of the big new ones is the new Apple watch. Wade, do you want to tell us what some of the differences are with the new watch?
WADE WINGLER: I’m going to lean on Brian a little bit because he actually has one of the new Apple watches. Apple watches and smart watches in general are something that is important, especially as we think about assistive technology. The Apple watch has been out for a number of years now, and they are on version 4. The first version of the watch, I think, was consistent with what Apple has done with their technology. The first version of anything they make is a little bit forward thinking, but we are not exactly sure how well it is going to work and what exactly it’s going to do and those kinds of things. With the Apple watch 4, I think they started to hit their sweet spot. It’s sleeker, there is more screen real estate, the resolution is better, the battery life is better. I was looking at a review recently that said Apple has finally figured out what the Apple watch is for and version number four. It was originally designed to be a computer on your wrist, like a Dick Tracy wristwatch do it all kind of thing. What they really come down to is it’s about fitness applications and notifications. It does something more than that, but that really seems to be the sweet spot for the killer app with the new Apple watch.
As I think about it, I’ve got an Apple watch 2, so I suppose I’m due for an upgrade sometime soon. I’ve been wearing it for a couple of years, and that’s really what I use it for. I’m getting notifications about emails or text messages or those kinds of things throughout the day, and then I’m also using it to track exercise and walking and steps. I’m sure while we are recording today I will get one or two reminders that say hey, drink some water because that’s important. I find myself tracking that kind of stuff on it. With the new Apple watch, it does have some new functionality. It is more standalone in terms of the way to communicate with the rest of the world and also has some better health monitoring stuff, a more real-time heart monitor. I think it does some EKG and stuff like that.
Brian, I’m looking at you because you jumped from the two to the four or the three to the four. You are wearing the four now.
BRIAN NORTON: I’m wearing the four now, and I love it. Like you said, the screen is so much bigger than before. I can fit everything — they’ve got some new watch face it that allow you to have some more control. I can tell the temperature, the battery life. I have access to my contacts, my calendar, my heart monitor, my work out, my activity tracker, a timer, all on one watch face. Again, like you mentioned, the notifications are amazing. The health related stuff you mentioned, heart monitor, there are some pretty cool health related features where it can set a high heart rate and a low heart rate. If you dip above or below, and it will ask you if you are okay, maybe ask if you should consult your doctor. I was playing with my dog the other day, and I like to slap my hands on the floor and play around with them and get crazy with my dog. I got a 90 pound Golden retriever. I was doing that, and my watch automatically started to ring. It said, hey, I think you might have fallen down. Are you okay? If I wouldn’t have responded or interacted with my watch, it would if not ahead and called my emergency contact that are set up on my watch. There are a lot of new features. I love the compared to my older Apple watch.
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s a great safety feature, especially for the aging — not necessarily you, Brian — but the aging population out there.
WADE WINGLER: You keep getting old.
BRIAN NORTON: When I turned 40, my vision started to go and everything seems to be heading downhill now. I got my Apple watch to help me out.
WADE WINGLER: I think those health and safety monitoring things are important. I also love the fact that Apple has always on a pretty good job with accessibility. So if you need voiceover or if you need some of those assistive technology or accessibility features, Apple watch has a lot of that stuff built in. They are pretty thoughtful about those things. It ranges from the $350 and up depending on all the different bells and whistles you get. I think it’s increasingly important.
JOSH ANDERSON: So talking about the fancy tech watches, I kind of went the opposite way and bought a new “slow” watch. It doesn’t mean it runs slow and I’m the everywhere. It’s actually a 24 hour, one-handed watch. Just the hour hand goes around all day. I really like it because I have to be places all the time, and I checked my phone constantly for time. Whenever I wear a watch, I do the same thing. Or if I forget my watch, I just are on my wrist all day long. It’s nice because when it’s just the hours, I don’t get as nervous about having to be somewhere, because I know I got a little bit of time. I don’t know how much but I find I’m almost earlier now to most things. It’s really nice. You can find them on slowwatches.com. They have all different kinds. They range from about $200-$300 depending on what kind you really want.
WADE WINGLER: $200 for a watch that doesn’t have all the hands?
JOSH ANDERSON: I know. It’s kind of crazy, isn’t it?
BRIAN NORTON: But it looks fancy.
JOSH ANDERSON: But it does look fancy, and sometimes you just have to look good. Everyone in the world has Apple watches. You all have those swear things on your arms. You look the same. One of us has to stand out here.
BRIAN NORTON: Looking good can cover a lot of flaws.
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s why I dress nice, Brian. It makes up for not knowing what you are actually doing.
[9:51] Dot Braille Smart Watch – $399
JOSH ANDERSON: Wade, talking about smart watches, there is a Dot Braille Smart Watch?
WADE WINGLER: Yeah, there is a Dot Braille Smart Watch. It’s from Dot Incorporated. It’s in the $400 range as well. It’s a wristwatch that happens to be around, so you might like that one, Josh. But it has 24 pins of braille on it. It gives you notifications and alarms and some of the basics on your watch, but in braille. One of the things I didn’t love about it is it is Android only, and it worked with a certain number of Android phones. There seems to be some thing about a new version coming out that’s going to have some new bells and whistles. I dug into a little bit to figure out. I think it’s amazing to have a braille smart watch so that somebody who is blind and is a braille reader, can have access to the time and notifications an email and stuff like that.
From what I can tell – I haven’t had one in my hands — it sort of looks like it relies on an app running on the Android phone, and then that app feeds information directly to the smart watch. It’s probably not as robust as you would expect from a high-end fit bit or Apple watch to give you more full access to your smart phone, it’s going to give you the information limited to what that absent out to it. But it is a good looking watch. It has good battery life and does give you those 24 dots of braille or four cells of braille information that scrolls and give you some access to stuff. Pretty cool stuff. You can find it from Dotinccorp.com.
JOSH ANDERSON: Brian, another kind of wrist wearable for blind and low vision individuals is the Sunu Band. Is that right?
BRIAN NORTON: The Sunu Band is kind of an interesting device. It’s for folks who are blind or visually impaired. It tandems along with — I wouldn’t use it as a standalone device, but if you have a white cane and you use that for navigation, usually as you walk along you are feeling for things, looking for things that are in your way and to be able to avoid those as you are navigating around inside or outside the community.
What this does is it is on your wrist. It uses echolocation and haptic feedback to help people navigation. In addition to the white cane, it improves spatial awareness, so that if there are things up high that you might miss with the cane as you are using it, will be able to get haptic feedback. It vibrates on the wrist to be able to know that something is in your area. As you get closer, those vibrations get stronger and stronger. It helps to be a little bit more spatially aware as you navigate around.
JOSH ANDERSON: Waving that white cane around in the air to find things definitely doesn’t make friends.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s not going to work for you. It is a little bit expensive, about $299. Think about the benefit of being able to navigate a little bit more easily and be able to avoid those things that you might accidentally bump into as you navigate around.
WADE WINGLER: That’s cheap. Josh pay that for a watch with one hand.
JOSH ANDERSON: Darn right. You’re going to say that when you show up late to the next thing.
BRIAN NORTON: What’s your monthly budget for watches, Josh?
JOSH ANDERSON: I own two watches.
WADE WINGLER: Do they each have one hand?
JOSH ANDERSON: If you put them together, I know exactly what time it is. I see how it is. Get the new host today.
[13:12] Iris Vision
JOSH ANDERSON: Nikol, kind of what we are talking about, blind and low vision things, and we’ve been stuck on the wrist. Can you tell me about Iris Vision?
NIKOL PRIETO: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a head worn electronic magnification device for individuals with low vision. It’s built around a Samsung VR, which is the virtual reality headset. In the front of the device is a Samsung smart phone. Instead of using it for the virtual world, you are looking into the real world, and it’s going to magnify the things that are seen through the screen. It’s got a touchpad on the side of the device where you can increase the magnification. The really cool thing is it can be used for near and distance. So you can watch television, read, watch things across the room. And also change some of the mode when you are reading. You can have a contrast black and white mode or an introverted black and white mode. It’s got several different modes on it, television mode, various reading modes for reading text, and the seeing mode for general viewing for outdoors.
You can try it for 30 days and return if not satisfied, so that’s a neat option. You can find information on it at IrisVision.com. It does come with a hefty price tag of $2,500. I did see on the website they have some payment plan option starting at $81 a month.
JOSH ANDERSON: If you think about what CCTV’s and video magnifiers cost, that’s not bad.
NIKOL PRIETO: True, and to have it on the go.
JOSH ANDERSON: Yeah, to be able to where it. I’ve actually gotten to play with one of those before. It’s pretty neat, because the way it magnifies, it almost brings up a bubble.
NIKOL PRIETO: And you can increase the bubble size. You can orient yourself to where that might be when you are looking at it, but that it increases and magnifies, so you get the full scope.
JOSH ANDERSON: See you can still see everything else going on while you are zooming in on the one thing you are trying to look at.
BRIAN NORTON: Can you navigate with that? Is it like a head worn device that you can walk around with?
JOSH ANDERSON: You can, but not if you need to magnification to move around. But yeah, if you bring back them magnification, you can invert the colors and get around pretty easily. It’s nice that the magnification can be just a small bubble, because then you can see everything that is still going on so you’re not —
NIKOL PRIETO: Get a feel for distances.
JOSH ANDERSON: Nikol, for folks with kids, you found the Relay Go.
NIKOL PRIETO: Yeah. It’s really neat. It’s a screenless cellular smart walkie-talkie. It is going to be used with a cellular service, but it’s not a cell phone or a smart phone. All it is, is a walkie-talkie feature. It’s a small square, has a rubber skin on it so that their it around or throw it down, it doesn’t seem to break. I would to say it’s indestructible, but it seems like they can be pretty rough with it. You have this little square walkie-talkie that your child would have and the parent would have the other one. Just with a pushbutton, you can talk to them, find out where they are or if they need to come pick you up. It goes through that Republic wireless service. I guess Republic wireless uses Sprint or T-Mobile. It’s $6.99 per month.
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s not bad at all.
NIKOL PRIETO: It can also be used for older folks at home that don’t want to use a cell phone. Your child could have that, your mom could be there and just have that pushbutton, I need you immediately kind of walkie-talkie feature. Simple and neat.
JOSH ANDERSON: Can they have more than one person?
NIKOL PRIETO: They can have different packs and you can attach several. They can also talk to their friends back and forth if they have several of them, and their friends also have a Relay Go. It does some funny things like you can use a funny voice generator, so they can send a message to their friend and it will generate in a funny voice.
JOSH ANDERSON: Can you make it the Darth Vader voice?
NIKOL PRIETO: It might. I don’t know what all the options are. They are on there for entertainment value.
WADE WINGLER: Do they have a Brian Norton voice filter? Say awesome all the time?
BRIAN NORTON: That’s awesome. You are awesome. That’s what my ringer says, just me telling me that I’m awesome. Hi awesome, how are you doing today? You are receiving a call, awesome
JOSH ANDERSON: Wearables aren’t just for the bonds or watches or your face anymore. Now they actually have rings. Brian, is that right?
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah. Josh, you actually showed me this or brought this to my attention. There is something called a Motiv Ring, M-O-T-I-V ring. A couple hundred dollars –
JOSH ANDERSON: And changes color with your mood, right?
WADE WINGLER: It’s an electronic mood ring? Get off my lawn! Your music is too loud!
NIKOL PRIETO: The curmudgeon club.
WADE WINGLER: Defeated to your pet rock.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s right. Fitness trackers are all the rage these days. Everybody seems either have a smart watch or a fitness tracker of some sort. This kind of a smart fitness tracker ring. It does a lot of what these more bracelet looking or watch looking devices do. It will actually track your fitness. It will track your heart rate, track your activity. It gives you three days of battery life, so it last a long time. It’s waterproof. If you are a minimalist and you don’t want something big or bulky to be able to carry around with you, such as a bigger fitness tracker, this might be the solution for you if you’re looking for something that can help you with that particular aspect of being able to track your fitness day in and day out. It’s Motiv Ring, M-O-T-I-V. you can go to mymotiv.com to be able to learn more about that. It’s a couple hundred dollars.
NIKOL PRIETO: So, no screen on it? It’s just sending it to your —
BRIAN NORTON: No screen. It looks just like a ring.
NIKOL PRIETO: Interesting.
JOSH ANDERSON: I looked it up a little bit. Whenever you want to order one, they actually send you a sizing kit first, and then you send that back and they actually send the ring to you after you do that. I think you can wear it while you sleep and it will track your sleep and how well you sleep and move and all those things. Very cool.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’ve got a couple other neat things that Bose made. One is the Soundwear Wearable Speaker, which makes me, for some reason, I think back to the eighties where somebody always carried the boombox in the entourage. It’s not quite that cool. I don’t know if anything could be quite that cool. It’s really a wearable speaker. If you think about all the people walking around with earbuds on or the big Bose over the ear headphones, you don’t hear everything is going on. This actually sits around your neck, on your shoulders, has Bose speakers on there, and it will play your music right there. But they’ve aimed in a way where it gets to your ears very easily but doesn’t disturb everyone around you.
NIKOL PRIETO: I like that. Before everyone else will be up to hear it, but you will be able to hear it a whole lot better. But you are also going to hear what else is going on.
WADE WINGLER: It’s like a musical stole [phonetic] JOSH ANDERSON: Pretty much. It really is.
BRIAN NORTON: It’s like a winter scarf.
JOSH ANDERSON: It is! I play in my backyard a lot, and I hate to wear earbuds or something because you don’t hear the birds chirping and the leaves and the wind and everything. I carry a Bluetooth speaker around with me a lot of the time, but that’s a pain because — so this is essentially a Bluetooth speaker you can carry like a boombox in the eighties. Of course, it takes calls and everything. It is made by Bose, so of course it’s about $300. But it will have really good sound and all that.
And they also make earbuds, completely wireless. They are called Noise-Masking Sleepbuds. As someone who’s about to have a child, I think I might need these. By the time this goes out, she’ll be born. If not, my wife will probably have boarded me.
WADE WINGLER: You will be living here in the studio.
JOSH ANDERSON: I probably will be.
BRIAN NORTON: Don’t let her know you’re going to get those.
JOSH ANDERSON: Exactly. They are Noise-Masking Sleepbuds. Both make a lot of noise canceling items and things like that. These will connect to an app on your phone and play things like waves or white noise or other sounds that block out the other sounds but give you something calming.
BRIAN NORTON: Like Christmas bells?
JOSH ANDERSON: Yes, like Christmas bells.
WADE WINGLER: Baby crying.
JOSH ANDERSON: Or Wade singing Christmas songs. You can set how long he wanted to play. So if you need 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep, you can set it for that. What I really like about it is you can then set your alarms through them. Whoever is next to you will not be woken up. As someone who’s about to have a small child, when my alarm goes off in the morning, I might want half an hour before she gets up. Although I’m sure it will always go the other way around. They are about $249. They are brand-new so those might come down a little bit in the future. The other thing that is needed is their carrying case is actually the charger. So you just set them in the case and they charge themselves.
BRIAN NORTON: That’s very cool.
JOSH ANDERSON: Guys, there are tons of holiday movies out there. I don’t mean Halloween, Nikol.
NIKOL PRIETO: There are scary Christmas movies.
JOSH ANDERSON: They are, and that’s totally fine.
BRIAN NORTON: I don’t know how you can scare yourself. I hate scary stuff.
WADE WINGLER: I have enough scary stuff in my life.
NIKOL PRIETO: Real life is so much scarier.
JOSH ANDERSON: What is your guy’s favorite holiday movie? Not all at once.
WADE WINGLER: That’s easy for me. Every year at Christmas says I’ve had children – and I spent a lot of Christmases. My oldest is 21 – every year I spend the hours from about 11 to 1130, just before midnight on Christmas eve, until about one to 2 o’clock in the morning watching It’s A Wonderful Life, having one adult beverage, and doing some assembly as required of something that I’ve got to put together. It’s been a Cinderella Castle, all kinds of toys, all kinds of ridiculous stuff. Every Christmas Eve, I watch It’s A Wonderful Life while I’m putting together Christmas gifts for the kids. I love that. I love Jimmy Stewart.
BRIAN NORTON: You have a pretty good impression of him, right?
WADE WINGLER: [Jimmy Stewart Impression] It’s where he’s talkin’ to Harvey is where I really bring out the Jimmy Stewart. Talking to Clarence sometimes too. Merry Christmas everyone.
NIKOL PRIETO: I see why your wife limits you to one.
BRIAN NORTON: That was without any adult beverage.
JOSH ANDERSON: You think. Nikol, what about you?
NIKOL PRIETO: I’m not an absolute Grinch, though I do have The Grinch on there. That’s pretty fitting for me. I love Love Actually. I like Rudolph. There are a lot of great ones. Those are the top three.
BRIAN NORTON: I love two. One is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Love that movie.
WADE WINGLER: Because you are cousin Eddie?
BRIAN NORTON: I’ve been told I look like —
JOSH ANDERSON: Only in the way you dress.
BRIAN NORTON: I do drive a big RV. The other one I love is Elf. We started to watch Elf quite a bit. That’s super funny. Those would be my two movies. Those are pretty much regulars every year.
JOSH ANDERSON: You guys definitely hit some of the winners. My favorite – and I’ve been watching it since I was a little kid — is Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.
WADE WINGLER: Love that movie.
NIKOL PRIETO: I’ve never seen it. It’s got to be on my list.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s great.
BRIAN NORTON: What is it called?
JOSH ANDERSON: Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.
NIKOL PRIETO: Putting in my notes right now.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s Jim Henson, so it’s all muppets and everything. Kind of pre-muppets. It was made in the early eighties probably. It’s really good. I’ve been watching that since I was a little kid. It used to be on HBO or something, and I think we recorded it off TV. And then I got the DVD how many years ago, which for some listeners, a DVD is like a streaming video service but it comes on a disk and inserts into a DVD player and plays.
NIKOL PRIETO: You might have had it on VHS. That would really blow their minds.
JOSH ANDERSON: You could record it right off the television. Like DVR, but with tape.
BRIAN NORTON: You mean those things that hang from the rearview mirror?
JOSH ANDERSON: Folks, this brings us to the end of episode one of our holiday gift guide 2018. I want to thank you so much for listening today. We will be back next week with part two of our holiday gift giving guide. I hope that you all have a wonderful day, got some good shopping done today I’m black Friday, and to be found some really good deals. Thanks again for taking time out of your busy day to listen to us. We look forward to coming back and seeing you next week. We will have Wade Wingler, Brian Norton, and Nikol Prieto all back in the studio to talk about what we do around this time of year as well as some of the really cool gifts that are out there for this year. Have a very great day, Merry Christmas, and we will see you next week.
BRIAN ANDERSON: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? If you do, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Are you looking for a transcript or show notes? Head on over to our website at www.EasterSealsTech.com. Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. For more shows like this, plus so much more, head over to AccessibilityChannel.com. The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easter Seals Crossroads, or any of our supporting partners. That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana. Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
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