Blind Bargains

#CSUN16 Freedom Scientific Makes two Announcements Related to Future Products, Spills Beans on ElBraille


Following is information presented in FSCast 123 which covered 2 new announcements from Freedom Scientific that were also made at CSUN. This information is presented in textual format so that those who prefer to read rather than listen can also have access to it. From an accessibility perspective, this article is for those who are not able to hear podcasts, who may find the information helpful. Any errors made in the below information are that of the author s, and it may also be worth noting that the author has a significant hearing impairment as well.

The American Printing House for the Blind and Freedom Scientific Partner up

The first major announcement was that Freedom Scientific and The American Printing House for the Blind are teaming up to bring JAWS and Magic, student Edition, to the classroom through the purchase of this software through quota-funds. Each license is good for 12 months, and has 3 user keys. This means a student can have access to JAWS and/or Magic in and outside of school, to complete homework assignments and do research. The license expires 12 months after the first key was installed, unless a school district elects to continue renewing that specific subscription. If the student has had their license renewed 4 times, Freedom Scientific will issue them a home license until that student graduates from grade school. Once that happens, the now graduated student would be responsible for maintaining their SMA. If the place in question does not have quota-funds available, they can also purchase a 12 month subscription from APH for $300. The Student Edition only differs from the other versions of the software in the licensing structure. All features, technical support, and documentation will be available for the Student Edition just like any other version. Eric Damery indicated in the podcast that they anticipate having the program ready for customers by the end of April, and that an official press release will come out when the program is ready to launch.

ElBraille

Adi Kushnir came to the podcast to discuss ElBraille. Think of the ElBraille as a computer inside the form factor of a notetaker. The components are housed on one part of the device, while a Focus 14 makes up the other part. The Focus can be disconnected from the rest of the device, so if you wish to take your Focus 14 and not the full version of the ElBraille somewhere for some reason, that is also an option. The ElBraille has a full 32-bit version of Windows 10 on it along with JAWS 17.

Here s a physical description of the ElBraille as presented in the podcast. The device measures 7.4x4.7x1.5 inches. With the Focus 14 attached, the entire package weighs 1.65 pounds. On the front, you have the Focus 14. As such, all of the controls that you will find on the Focus 14 are what make up the front of the device. ON the right side of the ElBraille, you have 1 button which allows you to detach the Focus 14 from the ElBraille. Continuing along the right side, you have the headphone jack, a SD card slot, USB port, and the power button. The back and left sides of the ElBraille do not contain any buttons, ports, or controls. On top of the ElBraille, behind the Perkins style keyboard of the Focus you have 6 buttons: E1, E2, volume down, volume up, E3, and E4. The top of the unit also contains speakers, a Braille label, and a micro SIM card for cellular connectivity in the upper left corner of the surface of the device.

The internal parts of the device include: 1.8 GHZ quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal memory, comes with a 64 GB SD card that is internal, SD card reader that supports cards up to 256 GB, a built-in microphone, stereo speakers, a vibration motor, 3G modem, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 N wifi and all protocols before it, built-in GPS, accelerometer, a USB port, and a battery life that they advertized as lasting over 20 hours even with wifi in use. The ElBraille also features a rescue mode button which will launch a menu separate from JAWS that self voices and has braille output.

While it does have a full-blown copy of Windows and comes in the flavor of a notetaker, Adi Kushnir indicated that it takes between 20 and 30 seconds to boot when in hibernation mode. It resembles a notetaker, but because it s running a full version of Windows, it s not possible to turn the unit on and be ready to add to a new note quickly. The 3G modem is GSM only, which, for those in North America, means that the device will only be compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T.

Pricing of the ElBraille is dependent on what the user already has. For example, if one already has a Focus 14 and JAWS 17, they could use their existing purchased stuff to lower the cost of the ElBraille significantly. This user would only pay for the docking station which includes the components listed above. The price will, of course, go up from there if you do not already own JAWS 17 or a Focus 14. No specific prices were mentioned and Freedom Scientific indicated the information was not yet available. IT was also made clear in the podcast that Freedom Scientific does not have an anticipated release date, other than it should be in the second half of 2016.

Looking ahead, Adi Kushnir indicated that they are already working on a second generation of the product, and will also be releasing a version which will fit the Focus 40. Hardware, according to Kushnir, is expected to be updated annually. The cost of upgrading, according to both Mosen and Kushnir will be much cheaper than what it would cost to upgrade standard notetakers, because the user only needs to replace the docking station. The JAWS license and display do not need to be replaced. For now, users wanting more information can contact info@eliagroup.ru At the moment, the website is only in Russian, but they will have an English website coming soon.

Category: News

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