Blind Bargains

#CSUNATC19 Audio: Row, Row, Row your Code Jumper


I'm not going to lie. The interview I was looking forward to the most in Anaheim was with the American Printing House's Director of Sales Dave Wilkinson, who promised that I could play with toys and maybe learn a thing or two. Code Jumper is a completely hands-on tool to teach basic coding concepts to kids and even adults through the use of interactive audio pods. We get an extended hands-on in this podcast where we try to fix things, and then proceed to break them again. We also talk about other products in the APH Innovations line including the HumanWare Braille Trail, Freedom Scientific's Jupiter Video Magnifier, the Sunu Band from Sunu, and the TactPlus Printer from Kanematsu. You can check out the new and being improved APH website to learn more about these and many other products from the company.

CSUN 2019 coverage is Brought to you by AFB AccessWorld.

For the latest news and accessibility information on mainstream and access technology, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon offerings, access technology book reviews, and mobile apps, and how they can enhance entertainment, education and employment, log on to AccessWorld, the American Foundation for the Blind's free, monthly, online technology magazine. Visit www.afb.org/aw.

Transcript

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Transcribed By Grecia Ramirez

Direct from Anaheim, it’s blindbargains.com coverage of CSUN 2019, brought to you by AFB AccessWorld.
For the latest news and accessibility information on mainstream and access technology; Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon offerings; access technology book reviews and mobile apps and how they can enhance entertainment, education, and employment, log onto AccessWorld, the American Foundation for the Blind’s free monthly online technology magazine, www.afb.org/aw.
Now, here’s J.J. Meddaugh.
J.J. MEDDAUGH: I am here at CSUN 2019 over at APH. Well, one of the rooms of someone from APH. Dave Wilkinson has let me play with a whole bunch of tech toys. I have this Code Jumper thing in front of me.
Dave, welcome back to the podcast.
DAVE WILKINSON: It’s great to be here, and we’re really excited about Code Jumper. And for folks who aren’t familiar with Code Jumper, if you’ve been hiding under a slab of bacon or something or other the last couple of months, Code Jumper is a product that was developed by Microsoft that is being distributed by APH. Microsoft was gracious enough, after they developed it, to hand it over to APH for not only North American, but global distribution. And it is a physical way of learning a lot of the basic concepts of programming.
The age limit on here, it claims, is 7 to 11. I know for a fact that that is a lie. If you put this in front of anyone anywhere, they start to play with it. We’ve spent hours of either productive or –
JM: Doesn’t matter what age you are.
DW: -- wildly un-productive time playing with it at APH. It’s just a lot of fun.
And what it does, to sort of give you a brief description of how it works, it all works off of a hub, which is connected to your computer via Bluetooth. And the hub has a series of pods, and the pods are slightly bigger than an old computer mouse. And each of the pods is different. There are different colors, they have different types of knobs on them. So there are tactile differences in all the different pods, and there are visual differences for folks who are low-vision.
You have eight, what are called Action pods. And the action pods have two knobs on them, one of which is, sort of, lower to the ground and flat, kind of like a donut, that controls what the action is on the pod. And then, you have a higher knob that controls the pitch or the duration of the sound. And then, you also have Loop pods, which will let you loop things together. You have pods where you can pause things. And if you want to get really wild, there are some – there are holes in the tops of the pods where you can put things like these little plugs that will do things like go into infinity, which is always one of the fun ones because –
JM: Yes. The podcast that will never end. I’m -- all right.
DW: End. End. End. Never end. End.
So what you’re literally doing with this is you are building a – and there are a number of different soundscapes that come built in. And if you don’t like any of the ones that we provide, you can add your own sounds, so you can have custom sounds. We have an awful lot of them. We have a number of different MIDI instruments, we have, as you’re about to hear, a charming little British child singing “Row, Row, Row your Boat" that you can put together or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. One of the other really popular motifs at APH is this cowboy thing where you can have cowboys saying “yee-haw” to each other as they’re coming into the saloon. So you’ve got all these different soundscapes.
And then, the hub, if you want to get really wild and crazy, you can have multiple threads happening at one time. So you could have "Row, Row, Row Your Boat” as a horse is whinnying. Now, why you would want to do that –
JM: Well –
DW: -- I have no idea other than it –
JM: It’s –
DW: As soon as this recording is over, I plan on doing it.
JM: Yeah. Send that over to us.
So I think this is much more effectively demoed by doing, so –
DW: Absolutely.
JM: We have a –
DW: We have a whole mess set up –
JM: -- hub. Yes. Oh, my gosh. There’s a whole pile of –
DW: And before J.J. came in, it was all set to where it would sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" beautifully. And then, J.J. screwed it up. And hopefully, before this recording is over, he’ll have –
JM: Let’s see if I can fix it.
DW: -- fixed it for you.
JM: Let’s see if I can fix it.
So this is the hub. It all starts here. I’ll play this first, then let’s try it piece by piece.
RECORDED VOICE: Row, row, row your boat.
DW: So far so good.
RECORDED VOICE: Merrily, merrily --
JM: Uh-oh.
DW: Oops.
RECORDED VOICE: -- merrily, merrily. Row (low pitch) your boat.
JM: Whoa.
DW: That did not end well.
JM: What happened to “gently down the stream” and –
DW: Oh. It sunk.
JM: Okay. So it starts here with the hub, which has a big play button and a square pause button, a well for the speaker, and a volume knob, and then a few – I guess these look like headphone jacks.
DW: They are. They’re – they’re just 3 and a half – what is it – 3 and a half millimeter or whatever those things –
JM: Yeah.
DW: -- jacks are. And so you have four different -- you could have four different things happening at once, except that you’d soon run out of pods.
But you could totally – yeah. You could have four sounds coming out from this bad boy at once. We have this coming through the speaker of the hub. You could also have it coming through the speaker of your computer. But I like it coming through the speaker of the hub because then, if you got little kids, you can put this in the floor and you can just all play with it and, you know --
JM: Sure.
DW: -- have a great time.
JM: So it connects here. And then, these – in the setup we have here, they are all kind of chained together. So out of the –
DW: Right. Now, one of the things that I want to show you –
JM: Okay.
DW: -- before we get started with this –
JM: Okay.
DW: -- is when you plug something in, you have a physical click that lets you know that the – there was a connection made --
JM: Ah.
DW: -- so that you know that you’ve actually – so you got an auditory indication that the connection was successful.
JM: That makes a lot of sense.
Now, looking at this, the first one that’s coming out of this this is a loop, which makes sense, "row, row, row". And there’s a single dial at the top of this.
DW: Right. And if you turn that dial --
COMPUTERIZED VOICE: Four, five, six.
DW: And what you’re controlling is how many times you’re going to hear “row”.
JM: So what is determined there? So –
DW: So –
JM: -- beyond the loop, is another pod; right?
DW: Right. And that pod is what’s looped into the loop for “row”. And so what you’re controlling with that dial is how many times that loop is going to play.
JM: So there’s a cable that comes out of the -- well, I guess there’s a couple things you plug into the loop; right?
DW: Right. What you’re doing -- from here, you have a short cable that comes from, in this case, the hub that goes out to the loop. And then, you have a longer cable from the loop that connects to the end of the pod. And then, the pod itself goes into the second pathway of the loop. And for those of you trying to visualize this, I’ve never successfully been able to visualize it, which is why you have to come by the APH booth at CSUN or at the summer shows or anywhere else that we are around the universe to take a look at this bad boy, because it makes so much more sense when you’re playing with it in person.
JM: But that’s exactly why you have this: so you can take code and put it in front of you, and then exactly see how a loop or an if/else statement would look like.
DW: Absolutely. And one of the things that we’re doing with this, and one of the things that we agreed to do when we took this on, is we’re developing a detailed curriculum, because one of the immediate things that comes out of this is teachers are like, But I don’t know how to code. And that’s okay. We have step-by-step instructions to get you started.
And so when this is released – and this is not available for sale yet. We are hoping for some time in late July, to be selling this in English-speaking countries with more to follow over the next months and years. So we’re in the almost-there phase, but the – you know, it’s right – you can see the finish line in sight, but we’re not quite there yet.
JM: So let’s see what we’ve done here. We’ll just keep doing this.
RECORDED VOICE: Row, row, row, row, row, row your boat. Merrily –
DW: That’s because you had the loop set on six.
JM: So that was the one thing that was actually correct.
COMPUTERIZED VOICE: Five, four, three.
JM: So back to three. Now, that’s connected to this action pod. Well, right now, it’s “row”.
DW: Right.
JM: Well, there’s two dials on this one.
DW: Right. And the top dial would affect the pitch of “row”.
RECORDED VOICE: (Rising in pitch.) (Low pitch.) Row. (Mid-to-high pitch.) Row. (High pitch.) Row. (Low pitch.) Row.
JM: There’s four choices, obviously.
DW: Right.
RECORDED VOICE: (Normal pitch.) Row.
DW: And so then if you move over to the next action pod –
JM: Well, it –
DW: And the bottom one would choose what part of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" you’re hearing.
RECORDED VOICE: Your boat. Row –
JM: So these are sound files that are loaded on via Bluetooth. You could customize --
DW: You can customize and add your own. And these sound files are actually stored on the computer, and they’re being sent over to the hub via Bluetooth.
JM: Okay.
DW: Now’s a really good chance to point out that right now, the only operating system this works in is Windows 10. There are plans for an IOS and Android version of this. And you’ll probably be seeing one of those relatively soon. And even though I’m not sure this is for public knowledge yet -- this is why I get in trouble -- the Android version may be first.
JM: Oh. Hey.
DW: Hey.
JM: Some of us will like that quite a bit.
DW: There you go.
JM: All right. So we can keep, kind of, tracing the wires here.
DW: That’s right.
JM: So loop, loop. Now, we’re out of the loop entirely. We have another wire that comes to this pod. I think this was a problem. We needed to build this to –
RECORDED VOICE: (High pitch.) Your boat.
JM: “Your boat.” Well –
RECORDED VOICE: Your boat.
JM: No. “Your boat” was correct; right?
DW: I have no idea. I’ve forgotten.
RECORDED VOICE: Gently down the – your boat.
JM: Oh. Wait. Let’s see. Let’s play this again and see where we’re at currently.
RECORDED VOICE: Row --
DW: And see, the genius of this is you can trace it.
RECORDED VOICE: -- row, row –
DW: Loop.
RECORDED VOICE: -- your boat.
DW: Pod.
RECORDED VOICE: Merrily, merrily.
DW: Oh. There’s –
JM: Oh. There’s the problem.
DW: So the third pod is the problem.
JM: So this needs to be an action pod. We’re going to change this to –
RECORDED VOICE: (High pitch.) Merrily.
JM: No.
RECORDED VOICE: Merrily.
JM: That was the wrong one. Oh.
DW: Yeah. You want to use the donut knob.
JM: Our transcriptionist is going to have a –
RECORDED VOICE: Merrily, merrily.
JM: Oh. These are all the merrily’s.
RECORDED VOICE: Merrily, merrily, merrily -- life is but – gently down the stream.
DW: There you go.
JM: Okay. All right. So now, we’re over here to this.
DW: Now, this one, we introduce an entertaining feature. Because we’ve got four merrily’s, and we’re going to run out of action pods because we only have eight action pods. And so when you have “merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily”, you could have four pods, and you – if you put them all into a loop, then they’re all going to be the same –
JM: -- pitch.
DW: -- pitch.
JM: Yeah.
DW: So you can use – and I don’t know what this is called in programming world, but we have a little plug that we put into the action pod for "merrily" that has a plus. And the loop, we set to four. And so every – so it keeps advancing one time, one time, one time, one time. So you’re going to get “merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily”. And so you’re going to get all four merrily’s. The loop will be right for four, and that plus sign tells it to keep going to the next one, the next one, the next one, the next one for the four times.
JM: Let’s say like a four next loop of some sort.
DW: Yeah. So this is why you’re here. I’m a sales guy. I don’t know how to program this stuff.
JM: Okay. So here, we have the loop.
COMPUTERIZED VOICE: Five.
JM: Oh.
COMPUTERIZED VOICE: Four.
JM: We think that was correct already at four. And then that is going out to this action guy with the little extra piece you were talking about.
DW: Right. With the little plus piece in the top of it.
Now, for those of you who are interested in knowing such things, we could replace that plus piece with an infinity, in which case, you would have "merrily" from now until the end of time. It never goes away.
JM: Is there a minus?
DW: There is a minus.
JM: All right.
RECORDED VOICE: (Ascending in melodic pitch.) Merrily, merrily, merrily.
JM: So I need to put it on the first “merrily.”
DW: That’s correct.
JM: Okay. So – and then, we have "life is but a dream" over here, I guess is, hopefully, the last thing.
RECORDED VOICE: (Low pitch.) Gently – your boat.
JM: Oh. That’s the – okay. This definitely needs to be fixed.
RECORDED VOICE: (Low pitch.) Row.
JM: Uh.
RECORDED VOICE: (Normal pitch.) (Mid-to-high pitch.) Row. Row -- merrily, merrily.
JM: What happened to “life is –
RECORDED VOICE: Merrily. Row your boat gently down the – life is but a dream.
JM: I think --
DW: We might have it.
JM: -- we might have it. So let’s hit play.
RECORDED VOICE: Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily. Life is but a dream.
DW: Yes.
JM: Woo. And some audio snob is going to come in, well, that’s not beat-matched correctly. Well, you can fix those.
DW: You know what? Develop your own product.
JM: Are there any other pods that I haven’t – I want to try this multiple at-once thing.
DW: Yeah. The multiple at-once thing is kind of cool. So what I was doing before – I have the second -- and all of these are changeable. But, like, I have the second one – the second thread programmed for percussion. And so we can sit here and have.
(Percussive instruments.)
DW: Oops. That’s a terrible cymbal.
(Percussive beats.)
DW: So, you know, we can – now, when you hit it, you’ll have a cymbal from the beginning of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.
RECORDED VOICE: (Cymbal), row, row, row your boat –
DW: So, you know, you could loop that. You can just have it go bam, bam, bam, bam, and you could have a cymbal through the whole thing.
RECORDED VOICE: -- gently down the stream.
JM: Yeah. You could put a loop pod on top of that
DW: Right. So –
JM: I’m assuming you probably don’t want to have one coming out at this side, one coming out this side, and then having them both come together at some point, would that just break the whole thing or –
DW: The two threads are completely separate.
JM: You don’t want to combine them in the mix?
DW: No. No. You can’t combine in the middle. This is why it’s for ages 7 to 11. The – he – thoughts like that.
JM: And, like, but, you know, seven – hey. I could see four, five year-olds even –
DW: Now, what our goal is, before the end of CSUN -- and we have several of these units with us so we can grab a lot of pods from different ones -- we want to have different strands of "Row Row Row Your Boat" and have it as a round.
JM: Oh, my gosh.
DW: So this is – this is sort of the APH – we have infinitely more important things to do, so we’re going to make –
JM: Do you have a Pause pod?
DW: -- a round on this row, row – we do have a Pause pod.
JM: So it’s like a time –
DW: Yeah. And the Pause pod, which I am now – I will find one and hand it to you, has one – yeah. Here you go. It has one knob on it, and the pause – and that knob controls the length of the pause. And it goes from a quarter to a half to three quarters to a beat or to – I think it’s actually to a quarter to a half to a beat to two beats.
COMPUTERIZED VOICE: A quarter beat, half a beat, one beat, two beats.
JM: Let’s see if I've done something. I think I did here.
RECORDED VOICE: Row, row, row – (cymbal) – your boat –
JM: Yes.
RECORDED VOICE: -- gently down the stream.
JM: We have paused the cymbal --
DW: That’s right.
JM: -- a short bit.
DW: And so what you could then do if the pause is working – and this is what we were playing with the other day – is you could loop the pause to make the pause longer.
JM: Right. And then have some sort of drum thing?
DW: Right. So I mean, the possibilities with this are literally endless.
And one of the really exciting things is every time we sit down with kids, we’ve done some -- we’ve worked with some kids with the – at the Tampa Lighthouse and we took this over to the Kentucky School for the Blind and we’ve taken it – I think it was to the Ohio school for the blind and we’ve done a few other, sort of, things in the states. Because most of the field research was done before we got this product. It was done in England, where it was developed.
The Microsoft employee who initially had this idea – sort of, this concept, had a blind son, and she was really frustrated that everything that was out there was sort of going to take him off into a corner to teach him the concepts of coding, whereas this is just fun. You get blind kids, sighted kids, whatever, you put this thing together, and you’re all learning the concepts together, so it’s a mainstream activity. And so she got Microsoft – they have a – what – a section – the new CEO, whose name I can never remember – who, you know – where they just do small, sort of, niche products like this.
JM: Right.
DW: And so they developed this. And then, they were like, we don’t know anything about this market and we’re not going to sell a hundred billion of them, so we’ll give it to you and let you deal with it. And it’s a chance for – one of the things that’s really exciting for us is that we’ve been wanting to have more of a global presence for a long time. And part of our deal with this is that we are the global distributors of this.
JM: You can sell it everywhere.
DW: And we – not only can we, but we have a very detailed plan on when we will be selling, in what countries and what languages over the next few years. So yours truly is going to have a lot of frequent flier miles and end up who knows where.
JM: Wow. So what will it come with, and then what will it cost?
DW: It comes with – and I’m going to get some of these numbers wrong, but it comes with eight Action pods, Pause pods, Loop pods, there is a Merge pod, which you can use with the if/else. And I’m showing you a Merge pod. It literally just has no knobs on it because it’s just merging things --
JM: Ah.
DW: -- back together.
JM: Okay. Yeah. It’s just two wires coming out and then the single headphone jack on the other end.
DW: Right. And then we have a number of plugs that, like, we were using for the "merrily, merrily, merrily". Each of the pods – each of the action pods has eight different sounds, so there are – the little plugs, dots one through eight and, you know, to where you could have it play first choice; the first and second; first, second, third; et cetera when it’s looped in.
JM: Oh. Uh-huh.
DW: You have a Plus, a Minus, an Infinity pod, and I’m probably forgetting something. So it’s a pretty comprehensive package. It comes in a form-fitting case where all the pods will fit into the, you know, their own little molds. It does come with this cool little rubber mat that’ll keep things from sliding around. And the cost is to be determined. We are trying to keep the cost as low as humanly possible because we want this to end up in as many hands as possible.
JM: How do you think this is different from mainstream systems that are designed to do the same thing: Teach coding concepts to young people?
DW: This is the only system that we know of where you’re physically putting parts together, putting things together, putting pieces together, to learn these concepts. It doesn’t have to be made accessible because it was built from the ground up with accessibility as its primary reason to exist. A lot of the mainstream products that are out there result in having the blind child, sort of, off in the corner doing their own thing separate from the rest of the class in order to be able to learn these concepts. And this is designed to have everyone doing the same thing at the same time.
JM: Awesome. Very much. And looking forward to this. When will it be available?
DW: We are hoping for the end of July. We really want to have this in schools for the beginning of the fall semester coming up this fall so that kids can hit the ground and become our future coders and programmers and write all the cool software that we can use in future generations. It’s a really exciting – we got to – I never thought I would be able to say this sentence: We got to debut this product in London on the Microsoft stage. And it was just really cool.
You know, we were at a show that’s called the Bett show, B-e-t-t, it’s an educational show in Great Britain. And we – Craig Meador, the president of APH; Anne Durham, the vice president of Sales and Marketing; and Leslie Knox -- Leslie Farr Knox, our Director of Marketing; Larry Skutchan; and I all went over to London, and we got to be a part of the world, you know, sort of the un-vailing of this product –
JM: Wow.
DW: -- and it was immensely exciting. And one of the things that was really neat about it – you know, when Microsoft sent this out, you know, we ended up on the BBC. Now, you want something cool? It’s when you wake up, and you turn on the BBC and you’re in London, and you hear a story about what you were doing yesterday.
JM: That’s got to be a thrill.
DW: It was really – it was a rush.
JM: What’s the website for more information on that Code Jumper?
DW: You can go to www.codejumper.com. We are taking names, so you can sign up for information on Code Jumper. We’ll keep you in the loop as more information comes out, as we have a definite retail price both in the U.S. and elsewhere. And then as soon as we’re in a position to be taking orders, we will happily take your money, and we’ll take your order.
JM: Speaking of taking orders and also the fall school season coming up, I saw a tweet earlier today from, I believe, the APH account about a collaboration with Humanware on the Brailliant 14?
DW: Yes. It’s going to be a limited edition product called the Braille Trail. And the Braille Trail will be available in April. It will be on quota. It will be a version of the Brailliant 14 that comes with some really cool – it’ll look different than the Brailliant 14, it’s going to have a different color scheme. It will come with some materials related to Braille Bug, which was a popular AFB website that’s now an APH website, and there’s some other APH differences as well that we’ll be talking about as we get closer to releasing this in April. It will be $995, and we have a –
And it’s a limited edition product because we have another product that we’re working on with Humanware that will be coming soon that we’re building on for this. So get it while you can because it is going to be a limited edition product.
JM: You’re doing a lot with partnerships and other companies we didn’t get a chance to talk about, but at ATIA, that Freedom Scientific booth was showing Jupiter Video Magnifier. It seems like you’re doing a lot more with that in – as far as the way you’re trying to innovate your company.
DW: What we want to do is if other people can make things better, we will have them make them, and we can be the distributor for those products. And we can use our resources to get them into the hands of students not only K through 12, but another real push at APH has been to expand what we consider to be, sort of, the age of learning. You’re learning from the moment you’re born all the way throughout your life. And so we want to expand our view of – we’ve been very focused on K through 12 in the past, and we want to expand that for the entire life-learning experience.
But to get back to your point, we are seeking out partnerships with a number of different manufacturers. And we can talk about a couple of other ones in a second, but with the Jupiter Video Magnifier, we had a demand. People wanted a simple video magnifier with buttons. They wanted it to be very much like previous video magnifiers from APH, and the good folks of Vispero were able to do that for us. And so we said, hey. We’ll take it.
That is actually the first product that was launched in the APH Innovations line of products. That is a line of products that is available cash only or credit card, but meaning that it’s not a quota product. And we have a number of – we have a few other APH Innovations products.
We’re going to be showing the Sunu Band in our booth, which is a wristband that sends out sonar waves and gives you vibration patterns based on what’s in front of you so that you can use it to determine objects that are a few feet away. Or if you’re outside, you can use it to determine tree branches that are above your head or items that are 10, 15 feet away from you. It also has a really cool app that you can use on your phone, so you can use it as a speedometer, you can use it as a SmartWatch, silent watch, so it’s – I’m still wearing the old Tissot, silent T, vibrating watch.
JM: Oh, yes. Uh-huh.
DW: The Sunu Band has finally replaced that, as far as being able to have a totally silent vibrating watch that works for me.
It also has a really cool feature with Google Maps so that you can aim the Sunu Band down the street, and you’re like, hey. Is there a restaurant down this block? And it says, yes. There’s a restaurant in this block. And then you can use your cane and your Sunu band to get to the restaurant, and you have your meal, and then you come back to CSUN and you come to the APH exhibit.
JM: Wow.
DW: We are also announcing, under the APH Innovations line here, a partnership with a company in Japan who makes a Braille graphics – tactile graphics printer that’s called the Tactplus.
JM: Ah. I was wondering about that. I saw that listed on the Exhibit Hall.
DW: Yes, indeed. And what sets the Tactplus apart: One, it’s about the size of an Inkjet printer, so it’s infinitely portable. It is silent. It can be printing out a tactile graphic as you and I are sitting here doing this interview, and you wouldn’t notice it.
JM: Wow.
DW: It’s dead silent, which is just kind of amazing.
The other thing that I like about it is it doesn’t have, sort of, this stinky, plasticky smell of some products that we’ve had in the past that we used for tactile graphics that make you wonder if the building’s on fire. So -- because that’s not good.
JM: No.
DW: It can make tactile graphics of virtually any image. You can use SimBrailles, where you can put Braille labels on those tactile graphics. They are not designed to be permanent. They’re designed to be, you know, if you’re trying to find a graphic to show your student the human genome, you could find an image on the internet or on the APH graphics library, use the Tactplus to print it out, and your student would be able to see it. They would have it. You know, I wouldn’t argue that you’re going to hang onto it forever as a family heirloom --
JM: Sure.
DW: -- but we’re really excited about the instant availability of tactile graphics and being able to do it silently. And the silently is a huge issue for me. That means you can, you know, the para can be in the back of a classroom making these graphics that a teacher forgot to tell –
JM: And it won’t disturb --
DW: -- that they were, you know, that – that’s right. And it’s not going to disturb anyone. And it’s not going to smell like the building’s on fire.
JM: What type of – how is it printing? Like, what’s the actual process?
DW: I don’t know what the actual process is. This is why I’m in sales. But it’s printing onto a custom paper that’s very – it’s the same – as close as I can tell, it’s the same sort of idea except vastly improved over, you know, sort of, what the Tactile Image Enhancer or the Piaf was doing in the past, except that it’s not warm when it comes out. But it’s reacting to the lines on the paper, and it’s making the lines raised. You can, by making the lines darker or lighter, have lines raised higher or lower so you can have emphasis on different parts of the graphic. So, you know, it’s instant availability of graphs and pictures and – that are totally silent.
JM: And I also noticed that you are – are you looking towards the Canute apparently?
DW: We are. We’re very excited about the Canute, the first multiline refreshable Braille device. And the folks – the good folks from Bristol Braille are going to be here at CSUN, and we are going to have a Canute in our booth.
JM: Wait –
DW: Sorry. That’s the term. We’re – oh, God. It’s just the beginning of CSUN. But we are going to have a Canute in our booth, and we are being told by the folks at Bristol Braille that there should be units for sale in the relatively near future. I don’t know exactly what that time frame is, but I’m hoping it’s going to be soon.
JM: Soon is one of those words, but I think we are actually really close to actually seeing them come out as opposed to –
DW: I think so. And the folks at Bristol Braille are really interested in releasing a top-notch quality device, and they’re willing to wait until they get it right to not have to go back in and say, oh. By the way, the first round of people that bought this were beta testers, which always kind of sucks. So it’s been a real pleasure to work with the folks from Bristol Braille in making this right and just watching the passion and the love that they’ve put into this product. I don’t know how to describe it other than that. Ed Rogers and his crew of folks have worked really hard on this, and they’ve poured their guts into it, and it shows.
JM: Lots of Braille news from APH. I would be remis if I didn’t bring up Orbit Reader. What’s going on with that? Someone had told us that they are currently not available for sale.
DW: APH is currently not taking orders for the Orbit Reader. We made a decision to not do back orders. There have been supply issues that everyone was in the Transforming Braille Group is experiencing. There are a lot of meetings happening here between the folks at Orbit research and Transforming – the Transforming Braille Group to see if a lot of issues can be resolved. We hope that we will have Orbits in the future.
One of the things that we have always wanted to do is have multiple types of products on quotas so that, for example, with the Braille Trail, if we’re able to get more Orbits, then you’ve got your choice of Braille Displays so that you’re not limited by just, you know, having only one thing available on quota.
So the basic answer to the Orbit question is there are a lot of things that have to be worked out. There have been issues with supply in the past. We are hoping that we can work these issues out to everyone’s satisfaction. We are committed to low-cost Braille, but at the same time, we are also committed to provide refreshable Braille to our customers and our students and folks who expect that from us, and we will do anything we have to to make sure that we can provide refreshable Braille for our clients.
JM: Well, there is certainly a lot going on at APH. I talk –
DW: It’s not slow.
JM: Right? I talked briefly on our last regular podcast about the Indoor Navigation Symposium, I know we’ll have more to talk about that in the near future as well. So there’s just so much going on.
DW: It’s a really exciting time to be there. You know, it’s – years ago, when, you know – this probably isn’t really fair to go, but APH had a reputation of being, sort of, the stodgy, old, the grand – I don’t know, the matriarch or patriarch or whatever, and it was like, Oh. Yes. And now, we have a new slate. And it’s really an exciting time to see what Craig Meador and the executive team is pushing us to do. It’s a very exciting time when you go through the building. It’s a fantastic energy, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. And it’s an honor to get to be a part of this organization, taking directions into the 21st century.
JM: What’s the best way to stay up to date? Of course, aph.org, but that’s a big website.
DW: And the big website is going to be completely revamped in the near future. So the big website will hopefully be a little bit more manageable. Stay tuned. That’s coming soon.
You can send an Email to info@aph.org. Folks can always Email me. I’m davewilkinson@aph.org. You can call up our customer service folks at (800) 223-1839, and I believe it’s option 1 for customer service. Or you can go to our website, which, as we said, will be relaunched and look a lot cooler in the near future. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and God knows what else.
JM: Awesome. Thank you so much, Dave. It’s always lots of fun.
DW: J.J., it’s always a privilege. I love being on Blind Bargains because I get to go back and hear all the things that I goofed up later.
RECORDED VOICE: Row, row, row – (cymbal) -- row, row, row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.
JM: Okay
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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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