Whether it's locating the nearest pharmacy to the workplace or exploring a route from the living room couch, blind navigation enthusiasts have a myriad of GPS solutions available at their fingertips. Sendero Group is known for their GPS solutions for the iOS mobile platform and BrailleNote products from HumanWare. Sendero PC Maps, which has been around for a few years, receives periodic updates and enhancements, making it a viable solution for those seeking accessible and fully functional virtual navigation software for the Windows desktop environment.
From a blindness perspective, GPS and orientation have always been one of those really interesting and fascinating concepts to me. I used to carry around a Trekker GPS with Maestro, which retailed for almost $2,000. It used a Windows Mobile PDA with a tactile overlay on the touch screen. You would typically wear that in conjunction with the speaker and the Bluetooth receiver slung across your body. For its time it got the job done and you were able to get from point a to b. It had everything you'd expect in a GPS product, but it was also very cumbersome and awkward while walking around, and I'm sure walking into a place of business with the Maestro solicited some curious glances and stares.
That was several years ago. There have been vast improvements in this area, so now I can just walk around with my iPhone using VoiceOver and use one of the many accessible GPS apps and have the same type of functionality available. But what about maps for the desktop PC? You could use MapQuest or Google Maps, but often times I just want to be able to check something out quickly without the hassle of trying to scroll through an inaccessible map and numerous graphics.
PC Maps does just that. The software is completely accessible and works with a variety of Windows screen readers. You are able to virtually explore and traverse intersections, plan and view routes, find over 15 million points of interest in the database and so much more. One really cool aspect is that friends, family, orientation and mobility specialists and anyone else can follow along with the integrated visual maps.
Why would I want to use this, and who can benefit from PC Maps?
PC Maps gives you the opportunity to virtually explore a particular area, hear intersections and determine what type of intersection it is and generally become familiar with an area all before you head out the door. When I started working at A T Guys, for instance, I found it extremely useful to be able to figure out the streets and businesses downtown close to the office, and I was able to do this before I hopped on the bus.It's easy enough to be able to take the bus to work, school, the grocery store or anywhere else, but the key is being able to know where to go before you board and after you get off the bus. PC Maps makes that process just a bit simpler, allowing you to put a route into action and gauge distances among other things.
The PC Maps Interface
PC Maps has an extremely intuitive interface. I was able to launch the program from my desktop and figure it out all without initially needing to refer to any list of commands or the manual. A tabular interface allows you to obtain all sorts of information, such as the current virtual intersection, destination, a detailed explanation of the current intersection, your virtual distance traveled, the nearest point of interest,, address etc. There are, of course, shortcut commands and keys that can be used to hear this info quicker without needing to tab around the entire window. A command summary can be found by accessing help. Alternatively you can press F1 then S.
There is a menu bar which is pretty standard for most Windows programs, with file, routes, location, explore, tools and help across the top. These are sub-menus, so you pull them down to access that portion of the menu.
Sendero PC Maps is a powerful Windows desktop application that allows you to virtually explore your surroundings, hear and cross intersections, view 15 million points of interest and a lot more. It would be impractical to list every command and functionality of PC Maps or to give specific instructions on a particular task. The extensive list of commands and manual are available from the help menu, but I think you'll find it a very intuitive and simplistic yet powerful interface where the documentation may end up being just for reference.
A T Guys sells Sendero PC Maps for $79, which gives you one year of updates and the latest available maps. Alternatively, we can provide you with a 30-day demonstration of the product so you can try it out before purchasing. Unless you request otherwise, you will get the North American maps. PC Maps also has map bundles for Europe, Asia, South Africa, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and United Arab Emirates.A T Guys
For an app that is for virtualization, I think the developers of this app are asking for too much. I don't think I would pay 5-dollars for something of this nature. I thought we have gone pass this type of apps and it surprises me that somebody is asking for money for something like this one! Surprises never cease!
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Kevin Andrews is in his final year of undergrad at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. He is majoring in journalism with a concentration in public relations and a non-teaching minor. He's a huge techie and loves playing with new gadgets, even if they aren't his. When he isn't in the office, he loves traveling, music, spending time with family, hanging with friends and craft beer.