Blind Bargains

Some Crazy but Quite Possible Tech Predictions for 2013


So it would appear that the end of the world was not actually December 21, 2012 and that we've made it to 2013. We hope you're enjoying the first moments of the new year. It's a year that promises to bring us many interesting stories to talk about. But what exactly will happen, you say? Well, frankly, we don't have much of a clue, but it's fun to speculate, isn't it? Here's a few predictions for the coming year.

A New Victor Stream will be announced. Likely at ATIA or perhaps CSUN, HumanWare will announce the next edition of the Victor line of digital book players. The Stream has seen several price cuts over the past several months, a survey was circulated about features for a possible future model, and the Stream's life cycle is just about up when compared with other products in the past. There's plenty of places to upgrade the player including wireless and Bluetooth support, a built-in clock, USB charging, and other features not seen before. HumanWare would be smart to get a new Victor model released before NLS support makes it into the iPhone, one of the features keeping users tied to their digital book players currently.

A mainstream eReader will become fully accessible. The thought is that one of a couple of things will happen. Either Amazon will extend their current and very limited speech support and make the Kindles more accessible, or another player, perhaps Barnes and Noble, will come out of nowhere with an accessible solution. Hey if they can surprise us with an accessible Nook app for the iPhone, why not a dedicated eReader as well? To be able to go into schools and libraries and confidently flaunt that their eReaders are compliant would be a definite selling point.

A Google car will get into an accident. Don't get me wrong, I'm not wishing for this to happen, but a fender bender or something else is bound to occur. While it was reported that this happened in 2012, the accident occured while someone was driving the car, not while it was in a self-driving mode. The discussion about the safety and plausibility of self-driving vehicles which follows the accident, however, will be interesting to watch indeed.

An accessible set top box will appear in the U.S. This one is bound to happen, and perhaps relatively soon. The technology has been demonstrated by Panasonic and others, and we are starting to see similar technology abroad. This combined with the 21st Century Communications Act and the subsequent rulemaking by the FCC should help to make accessible TV a reality.

A legacy screen reader will be no more. With the rise in usage for NVDA, the advancements in Apple VoiceOver, and the shift toward mobile devices, one of the legacy screen readers may just find it prudent to close up shop. I'm not saying which one it'll be, but the market is definitely shrinking, and there's only so much money to go around.

The National Braille Press notetaker will finally be released. Because, it has to come out sometime, right? We know the project is actively in development and have put our hands on prototypes, so eventually it seems as if the stars will align. It's going to have to make a major statement when it comes to price to get much notice, however.

And hey, if it doesn't come out in 2013, at least we'll have at least one item for our 2014 list of predictions. Let us know your predictions and what you think in the comments. Here's to a great 2013!

Category: Articles
Displaying 8 comments.
Bargain Hound Tuesday, 01-Jan-2013 10:59 AM ET:

I heard this morning that gesture-based devices will become ever more common, such as cameras, so you can be in the shot. I also heard that clothes with devices sewn in will become more familiar, including a small camera which will take pics all day and you can review them later. Light bulbs with wireless control of light parameters will also probably come. Happy New Year! It will be exciting to see what comes down the pike!


Laz Tuesday, 01-Jan-2013 12:49 PM ET:

Apple will announce the iCar then turn around and sue Google for patent infringement. LOL!


Kyle Tuesday, 01-Jan-2013 2:23 PM ET:

Microsoft will drive more people away from Windows with all the craziness that is Windows 8, and Apple will drive more people away from MacOS and iOS with their proprietary lockdowns on standard PC hardware and the vendor lock-in inherant in their i-devices. This will make many more people want to find out about the free software alternatives available in Linux-based operating systems and Android devices, many of which have free software assistive technologies built right in, and can be installed and used completely eyes-free. I have said this for some time now, and it looks like 2013 will be the year it starts happening on a massive scale.


bwaylimited Tuesday, 01-Jan-2013 5:26 PM ET:

I don't think any of the legacy screen readers will be going away anytime soon. NVDA , VoiceOver and other smart phone screen readers still have a long way to go before they match the functionality and comprehensiveness of commercial screen readers like JAWS, Window Eyes and even System Access. Gerald


darknexus Wednesday, 02-Jan-2013 07:01 AM ET:

@Kyle: Yeah, and what, GNOME will actually become a viable platform? I get it, you love open source. But give it a rest, will you?


darknexus Wednesday, 02-Jan-2013 07:32 AM ET:

A few predictions of my own: 1. The increased availability and affordability of portable Braille displays will begin ushering in the long overdue death of obsolete notetakers. With both iOS and Android being far more capable than notetakers, and with both supporting these displays, the market for overpriced notetakers running on five-year-old hardware and even more ancient operating systems will diminish. 2. NLS support on iOS will begin the decline of the book player market. NLS support is the only remaining factor that ties people to these devices. I don't see the attachment to NLS myself, as I'm quite content with the iBooks, Nook, Bookshare, and Audible combination (all of which are on my iPhone), but NLS does seem important to others. I don't see the BARD program lasting another ten years, but I suppose that's a prediction to come back to at that time. 3. Microsoft's poor handling of Windows 8, both from an accessibility standard and otherwise, will push more annoyed users to Mac OS X at home. 4. The state of Linux accessibility will, unfortunately, remain the same as it has for the past two years. There aren't enough skilled and paid developers to work on it. Ubuntu has already cut back their accessibility efforts, and they were the only major Linux that even had an accessibility team. I do not count Vinux, as blind-specific operating systems will isolate us in the end just as much as blind-specific devices would. 5. Google will finally get their act together and make Android accessibility as polished as iOS. I, personally, am really hoping for this one, since I'd love to move to Android but there are some things I absolutely require that will not work yet. 6. The classic screen reader that will die will be Window-Eyes. That's just obvious to anyone who is following it. The instability, lack of direction, constant web browsing issues (even on the latest 8.0 version) and overall arrogance of GW Micro will kill it.


austingrace Wednesday, 02-Jan-2013 5:21 PM ET:

I defanatly agree with the screen reader prediction. You can only be stagnant for so long. I think I know which screen reader we are referring to. Been there and done that. Whenever I use windows it's only NVDA.


blindcowgirl1993 Monday, 07-Jan-2013 7:57 PM ET:

I don't think Window-Eyes is on its way out. I'm not sure any of the big three are. They all have their place: SA with its affordability, JFW with its popularity, and finally, WE with its commitment to making the sciences accessible. There are many things that Freedom Scientific just won't do for those of us in the STEM fields, so I don't see the death of Window-eyes as a possibility. I agree that we will eventually have an accessible ereader. I also think we'll get some much-needed accessibility in the consumer electronics market as well. JMT. Aleeha


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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.


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