TREKKER REVIEWED AN ADVANCED OPS SYSTEM FOR THE BLIND
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Trekker is a OPS orientation product for the blind. After two years on the market, Trekker has been redesigned to use state of the art OPS technology and provide a more comfort and flexibility.
is a GPS—based orientation product for the blind and visually impaired. It’s an
innovative category of mobility tools that complements existing aids such as
the cane or dog. After two years on the market, Trekker has been redesigned to
use state of the art GPS technology and provide comfort and flexibility.
use of GPS technology for orienting the blind has been available for more than
ten ears. The first units where heavy, very expensive, and
the availability of maps very limited. Recent advances in powerful
portable computing (PDA) and availability of maps for GPS solution in the car
industry has lead to the commercial introduction of very efficient solutions
such as Trekker by HumanWare, launched in 2003.
Two years later, Trekker is being used by a growing proportion of the blind population both in the
Trekker is a fully portable GPS solution that work’s on a personal digital assistant (PDA) device. It integrates off—the—shelf hardware for GPS input, voice output that provide instructions, and optional voice input for entering notes. Trekker provides information that flows naturally to the user, tracking the proximity of points of interest such as restaurants, malls etc. Users can also personalize the points of interest such as the directions on how to go to a friend’s location. Other features include geocentric database search functions, route creation and flexibility in allowing the user to follow a given itinerary.
HumanWare has being conducting focus groups and gathering the experience of this first generation of users to review the product design. The objective was to improve both, the user interface as well as the ergonomic and flexibility of the system.
The new Trekker solution improves dramatically the user interface and makes it so much easier to enter data and navigate menus. The tactile overlay on the touch screen provides improved input capability and quick access to the functionalities such as switching navigation modes though button shortcuts. With the PC like interface and standard commands, a Trekker user can read real time directions and searching points of interest more efficiently. Popular features in Maestro, our accessible PDA like a contextual key describer and the possibility to use an external keyboards are also available. Route creation has also been improved.
Trekker is a light and compact system. The new hardware design allows more comfort and flexibility thanks to the use of wireless GPS receivers that can be clipped in any convenient place. The system provides also a high quality speaker and a genuine leather PDA case with front closure to secure and protect it. For more flexibility it can be attached with a built—in belt clip or a fixing hook.
The GPS precision of an orientation system like Trekker is a serious barrier to adoption. The Bluetooth receptors are an important driver of the GPS equipment market, resulting in more precise and performing devices that are now implemented in our system to offer better data accuracy and a quicker acquisition time, increasing the user’s confidence. The ability to use multiple and bigger maps correct limitations reported by our users. The system offers a PC interface to choose the maps to be transferred to the memory card in the PDA. The new Trekker multimaps offer also a powerful tool to edit and transfer Points of interest and the possibility to import existing databases.
The end result is a more efficient and reliable positioning system providing autonomy and confidence to the visually impaired and increasing their accessibility and enjoyment of the most useful and interesting opportunities found in their environment.