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Tech I’m looking forward to in 2022

By Stuart Beveridge, Assistive Technology Trainer at Seescape

The area of navigation is one that I’m really interested in at the moment. My current guide dog is due to retire next year and I don’t know if I’ll get another one. Changes in my job mean that I’m not sure another dog would be suitable and I’ve never been a confident long cane user but I am used to haptic feedback so I’m hoping I can find some technological solutions.

I’ve ordered a couple of things for this year that I’m really looking forward to trying out.

The first one is called Strap. The developers say it’s a total wearable replacement for the long cane. It’s an adjustable vest that’s suitable for all ages and sizes, with 10 sensors placed from the shoulders to the chest. Through vibration patterns, it will let you know about obstacles around you. It even works with water and ascending and descending stairs. I haven’t tested it yet but I’m looking forward to it.

Finally, I’ve ordered the Wayband and looking forward to trying that this year. It’s a wristband and, through an app, it tells you when you’re going to the wrong direction. I’ve been beta testing it and the developers are taking all of the feedback on board. I’m hoping it will work in tandem with some of the other navigation aids I’ve tried.

My top tech of 2021

Audio

I got a new set of Bose Tempo Frames, they’re headphones in the shape of sunglasses. I find them great because I can’t see light and dark and they protect my eyes on sunny days.

I’ve also used Aftershokz Trekz Bone Conduction headphones, which also has a microphone. I use them with MS Soundscape and find it really handy to answer my phone without having to take it out of my pocket.

Navigation and Obstacle Detection

This is a big area for me and I like to try everything that’s out there!

I’ve been using the NaviBelt, a belt that tells you where to go through haptic feedback. It’s fantastic alongside my guide dog.

I also use the Sunu Band a lot of obstacle detection indoors and it’s been particularly helpful during Covid to know when I’m close to people.

Apple Products

This year I got the iPhone 13 mini and I really think it’s the best phone going. I don’t need a big screen so the small size suits me and it has the best battery life I’ve ever had.

I started using an Apple AirTag, it’s a Bluetooth tracker similar to the Tile and I’ve got it attached to my keys to help me find them if I’ve misplaced them around the house. I’m thinking of getting another to attach to my guide dog to keep track of him if he doesn’t come back when he’s on a free run.

Google Chromebook

I’m interested to explore my Chromebook further. It’s got an in-built screen reader called Chrome Vox and it’s so handy for Google Drive. I think it has a lot of potential.

Braille

The Hable One Braille controller for smartphones is something I was a bit sceptical about, because it didn’t come with a Braille display. It took me a while to get used to the commands and the way you hold the device but it’s absolutely brilliant. I’m typing text messages faster and find email so much easier – generally I’m so much faster and more productive than I was using a touch screen.

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