2003 Conference Proceedings

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PAC Mate-the Accessible Pocket PC for the Blind

Glen Gordon
Chief Technology Officer
Freedom Scientific B/LV Group
Website: http://www.freedomscientific.com

The PAC Mate brings mainstream applications and broad connectivity options to a true portable device by marrying the market leading JAWS® screenreader with the Windows® CE operating system and the Pocket PC suite of portable, desktop compatible applications. Available with either a QWERTY or 8-Dot Braille keyboard, the PAC Mate is a completely new line of portable computing products designed specifically to meet the needs of blind people. Using ActiveSync to synchronixe with the desktop, PAC Mate users can rapidly exchange files, keep a full backup current on their desktops and take their email, calendar, tasks, and contacts with them.

A high capacity rechargeable lithium ion battery provides plenty of power to get through an average work day. Because the battery is easily replaced by the user, it is possible to carry a spare for those times when work is intense or one must be away from AC power for an extended period. Power management and file management is similar to the traditional notetaker, so work is automatically saved and the unit powers up with the cursor exactly where you left it.

Modern standard input and output ports provide compatibility with a broad range of off the shelf periperals and ensure interoperability with future products. Both Compact Flash and PCMCIA Type II ports are provided. Among the uses we will demonstrate for these are additional storage on removable cards, low power plug and play modems and ethernet cards, 802.11b wireless LAN cards, and modems for use with popular cellular phones. Using a Bluetooth wireless cable replacement card the PAC Mate can control a cellular phone, send a file to a printer, or synchronize with the desktop. The Irda port supports easy file sharing with PDAs and other PAC Mates. In addition to being a convenient way to exchange contact and calendar information, we will also demonstrate how Irda can send a file to a printer or synchronize with the desktop.

While PAC Mate supports a standard serial interface, modern computers are coming equipped with USB ports. PAC Mate's USB port is both host and client, so it provides a fast easy connection for synchronization, but can also drive its own peripherals, like a printer or a Braille Display. With a GPS application that runs on Windows CE and a GPS receiver operating through the USB port, PAC Mate offers unprecedented orientation information to the blind. This breakthrough solution includes the ability to browse maps offline even when the GPS signal is unavailable, giving users incredible access to information about their surroundings. A short demostration of offline browsing is included.

PAC Mate comes with the Pocket PC applications, including Pocket Internet Explorer. While demonstrating the range of connectivity options, this presentation will show the ease of browsing with JAWS and Pocket Internet Explorer. Easy access to information that was heretofore bound to the desktop will be demonstrated with Avantgo.

In this presentation, we will discuss and demonstrate the first members of the PAC Mate family. We will also talk about subsequent models that will be added to the PAC Mate family. Participants will come away with a good understanding of the product, and its broad potental in the universe of adaptive technology.

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