Seeing AI for recognising things and reading out what it has found!

According to Stuart Ball this free Seeing AI iPhone or iPad app has multiple benefits for those with visual impairments or who are blind.   It has been developed by Microsoft so has the ‘swiss army knife approach’ according to AccessWorld to telling you about the world around you.  It searches out light sources, identifies colours and money and describes them using text to speech.  It will recognise a person is approaching and offer a description.  Barcodes can be read and optical character recognition is used for documents etc.  Clear handwriting can be deciphered and scenes described.

Another college student called Veronica in USA has provided a very helpful Seeing AI review from a blind student’s point of view

Microsoft have produced a YouTube video about the Seeing AI app.

Thank you so much Stuart for providing this strategy.

Stuart Ball is an Assessor at the Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Microsoft OneNote web clipper for capturing data

I really like OneNote as I can dump all my research into different sections and pages, grabbing things from the web. I can share them with colleagues which has been made easier now that OneNote can be used both off and online and there is a Chrome extension called web clipper.  You need to have a Microsoft account and download the extension. The icon sits at the top of the browser and when there is something you want to keep for reading later you can choose to have the complete page or sections etc.  OneNote has always been good at automatically capturing where the clip comes from with a URL  but this method allows you to add to the information.

onenote web clipper

 

Free Microsoft Office Lens speeds productivity

phone Office lens

Taking an photo of the screen

Office lens is a free app available on an iPhone, Android and Window smartphone  that links to One Drive accounts and allows you to take photographs and put them straight into Microsoft Office applications. The really good thing about Office Lens is that when I take a picture of a presentation or whiteboard I can make sure it is exactly the right shape and is straight not set at an angle using the outline on the screen by selecting the document or whiteboard menu item.

image alignment for OCR

Making sure the image is straight for OCR

That is really important if you are taking photos of text that you want to have read aloud later.  If they appear out of focus or at an odd angle you will not be able to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR), to have the image converted to text so you can use a text to speech or screen reader application later on.  Once you have taken your photo you choose which application you want to send it to and if this is Microsoft Word it will extract the text.  The other options are your photos on the phone, OneNote, OneDrive, PowerPoint and Outlook or your phone mail if you want to send it as an email attachment.  The app will also save it as a PDF.

ready for export

Ready for exporting

The best thing I like about Office Lens is how it is linked to OneNote because I can collect all the images, notes and presentations, even photos of handwritten notes straight into my Notes folder and then I can search for them at any time,  as  I really have trouble remembering what I have heard in lectures etc and this process acts as a back up .

Getting started with Microsoft Office Lens from cnet

Abi James – Researcher University of Southampton.

Swype Keyboard and Dragon on mobile for messages and emails etc.

swype onscreen keyboard“I have been using the Swype Keyboard that comes with Dragon speech or voice recognition for long time on an HTC mobile running Android OS and despite the lack of a personalised voice profile, my accent, and even when used in very noisy locations like public transport or cafes, I have been very impressed by the accuracy.

Swype + Dragon is made by Nuance and uses their voice recognition server in order to convert speech-to-text.  There is a trial version on GooglePlay, but if you want to continue using, it would costs you 59p.

Dragon remote microphone is an app that allows you to use a mobile device as a remote microphone for the full version of Dragon installed on a PC or Mac, but only if the computer and the mobile device are connected on the same Wi-Fi network.

Alternatively the Goggle Keyboard (free) comes with its own speech-to-text, although in my experience it was less accurate when compared to Swype.

Speech-to-text on a portable device like an iOS iPhone/iPad or Android phone or tablet, is quite different than having Dragon NaturallySpeaking or DragonDictate installed on a PC or Mac. The speech or voice recognition process on a portable device requires an Internet connection, since the conversion/processing is made on a remote server, and not on the device itself. So literally, your recorded voice will be sent to the US, get processed in the Nuance server and then sent back to your screen.  There is no specific customisable voice profile on a portable device, that can be used in order to improve your accuracy, nor can specific words  be added to the Vocabulary. For example every time I say ‘Enrico’, Dragon on my mobile transcribes “eriko” and there is no way for me to make a correction. Also Dragon installed on a proper computer, can learn to recognise very heavy accents, the same is not true for the cloud-based services.

Look out for Dragon Anywhere an app for Android and soon iOS.

Enrico Riva

Need to spell check a word? Say it to your phone!

siri screengrabOne of the easiest ways of checking for the spelling of a single word when on the move and not requiring a whole document to be spell checked is to say the word into a smart phone or tablet. As long as you have one of the fairly recent versions of Android, iOS iPhone or iPad or Windows, they all have built in speech recognition.  I am showing an example of how it works on an iPhone with Siri and this iOS5 hot tip has been on the web since 2012. There is an Android tutorial on using Speech to Text and one for Windows Surface speech recognition

I said to Siri – “spell /filosofical/” (spelt as said) – It not only repeated the word back to me with text to speech, but also gave me the correct spelling and dictionary definition.  If I just said the word it gave me the text to speech version back and a collection of links such as the word in Wikipedia.

This comes thanks to Annie – dyslexic researcher, University of Southampton.

Google Drive for online storage and collaboration

google drive

Google Drive is an online tool which uses your Google account to store files online and can also be used to share files with other people and work on projects together. Being able to join in with a few others to work on a project and be able to take a break and have work still done is really useful.

Google Drive is able to create files, even from your desktop, and pick the permissions of who is allowed to edit it. More than one person can work on the file at the same time and the service has a chat panel for the people working in it, so that they can communicate. Everyone working on the file is given a colour and it shows who is typing when multiple people are working. Google Drive can also use documents from other applications to help create a project such as Google docs and Google sheets.

Google Drive is compatible Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8
Mac, mavericks (10.9), Mountain Lion (10.8), Lion (10.7)
Linux can access Google Drive through the website but the software is not available on the system
android 4.0+ and iOS 7.0+ are able to use Google drive, android 2.3-3.2 and iOS 6.0+ Can only view the files
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer run Google Drive but require Java script

Tom, Mathematics