scottyob
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:14 pm

G"day everyone,

I thought the topic name might have caught an eye or two. I"m super excited about the idea of a $25 computer like this one, not for myself, but for my grandmother.

Let me give you a little background. My grandmother is an 84 year old lady with macular degeneration. She lives alone (though we do visit often!) and is legally blind.  To keep her entertained she got a few audiobooks. The problem traditionally with these are that they either come in a cases of cd or a massive pile of cassette tapes. Not something terribly easy for an 80 odd year old lady to manage who can"t really see what she"s doing.

To get around these problems I bought my grandmother an iPod and an iPod dock. This worked very well. All she had to do was flick on her amplifier she"s had sitting around her back room for about 40 years, then pick up the very simple apple remote and hit the play button (the one with Velcro on it) and it would start reading her book. When I came to visit I"d load up a new book on it, go through the menus and hit the pause button ready for her to start again. The only problem with this is that my grandma can"t see the screen to navigate chapters, so I merged all the mp3 files into one before putting it on the iPod. It seems that the little thing struggles when you put a 45 hour mp3 file on it though

My idea now is to use this tiny computer for my grandma. I believe if it runs Linux I could write a udev rule to mount a flash drive when inserted as read only, kill any running instances of a media player, then load up all the mp3 files in a media player to play one after the other.  This should work perfectly and would be more or less exactly as she"s used to using her iPod.  I"d appreciate any help in this project . The big question I have is if it"s possible to put a USB hub or something on the USB port to allow a remote control along with the flash drive. Or if I could hook up a big button or something to it (for use of play pause)

I"m super excited about this coming out. I searched around and had a look at the fit pcs (very expensive for this purpose), the beaglebone (does not have audio ports) and this is just perfect. I"m very excited and can"t wait to get my hands on one to build this for her

obarthelemy
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:31 pm

Yes, you can hook a USB hub. Or get a Model B, which has 2 USB ports.

If you start hooking fancy peripherals (such as a one-button... thingy), make sure it has a driver or uses standard USB profiles.

obarthelemy
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:31 pm

Yes, you can hook a USB hub. Or get a Model B, which has 2 USB ports.

If you start hooking fancy peripherals (such as a one-button... thingy), make sure it has a driver or uses standard USB profiles.

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Gert van Loo
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:51 pm

I was thinking in a total different direction. How about some big different shaped buttons which 'do' something but also give audio feedback.

e.g. you could make up/down buttons and mention the title selected. The only problem I see with that is the there is no audio input on the Raspi. So you have to record the titles on another device.

Of course there is no end of button/action you could do (Build skype connection so she can talk to others??)

Left (sound: "Read Book"), Left (sound: "Call"), Up (Sound: "Call.. John") Up (Sound: "Call.. Scotty") OK (sound: "Press again to call... Scotty")

You could also add Viideo feedback? For a near blind person you only use big shapes so the composite/HDMI out could display e.g. two words on 28-inch screen.

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rurwin
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:04 pm

There's no need to load X if she's not going to see the screen.

I wonder if you could pipe the output of a command-line application through a text-to-speech program. You would not need to record the titles then, but you might need to produce the application.

tonycollinet
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:22 pm

can you install a low cost internet connection for her – only so  you can remote onto the pi using VNC.

Then the control interface is the phone, and  you

Alternatively -  you need text to speech as outlined above. You also need a tactile control system.

How about a game controller (EG an xbox controller). Most gamers instinctively learn the positions of controls so they don't need to think about it. stick left/right to select track with text to speach to read out the title.

Fire button to play/pause.

scottyob
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:39 pm

You guys are awesome!

The 2 USB Port model would be perfect then (one for flash drive containing audio book, one for remote).

I think a lot of those big buttons would normally work ok, but she's pretty old, so simpler is much better (and only pays a few dollars a month for her phone bill without internet access, so remote access ideas are out).  Any words on a screen, no matter how big wouldn't be terribly good for her (the poor thing is really getting towards the blind side.)

I think I'll design it so all she has to do is put the usb stick in (put velcro on one side of the extension cord and the flash drive to match them up).  She only listens to one at a time so next time someone comes to visit, they could just swap the flash drive around and the new book would start.  I think nothing beats the simplicity of a "one button" play/pause interface that's easy for an old lady to figure out

pleslie
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:47 pm

You could try something like this which uses accessibility switches, It would have no remote control but a single large button with a 3.5mm audio cable extender could work.

http://www.prlog.org/11763750-.....ccess.html

scottyob
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:02 pm

I originally was using an iPod with the play/pause button on the remote used as a similar thing as this.  It didn't seem to like merging the audio files to one on it so she wouldn't have to go into a menu system to play the next part of the book.  It didn't seem to start playing the next part automatically once a single part was finished so I'm thinking if I built a box based on this, it'd be perfect to the point where I know exactly what the thing is doing (I'm a programmer )

That big button looks cool though.  Is it going to be easy to hook up IO into this device with those extra header pins on the board?  Maybe I could just hop down to the local electronics store and buy a big button like the one on that website then wire it up

pleslie
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:32 pm

If you made a playlist for the files it should automatically play the next track, but I don't know much about the Raspberry pi, so I'm unsure what type of I/O it has. The button would just need to be hooked up to an input pin and you could write code to process the button presses.

The other device sends commands to the IPOD to control the track, volume and play/ pause functions etc with voice commands prompts through the audio output port on the device.

Either way both methods should be able to give you a decent solution to your problem.

Tomo2k
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:37 am

There are quite a few USB-connected Big Buttons available that enumerate as generic HID.

One of those should be relatively simple to use as a Pause/Go interface identical to what she currently has.

- This is a very important detail for user acceptance.

Once that is running, I would then start looking into voice synthesys to allow a multi-button interface as Gert suggested above.

An interface that has four Big Buttons - Up, Down, Cancel/Back, Confirm/Play/Pause - and a synthesised voice to say the currently-selected item should work well.

- Be very careful not to make a deep menu structure though.
Too many layers can become highly confusing in a visual structure, let alone a non-visual.

Back is absolutely necessary in a menu - that's one reason we all hate those telephone interfaces.

This way she can choose which book from her collection she wants to listen to - at present, if she dislikes the book you left on the iPod she's stuck with it until you can come and swap it out.

ziltro
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:43 am

You might want to look into RockBox (open source firmware) for the iPod or similar portable music player, it has support for reading the menu for blind users. However the menu is ... quite in-depth ... in places. I suspect it can be simplified...

I would use MPD to play the audiobooks on a RPi. http://www.musicpd.org/

(I'm assuming it will compile on ARM... If not I wouldn't be surprised if someone gets an RPi and makes it work pretty soon after release - I want it to run on an RPi for other reasons.)

This runs in the background and is controlled by a client program, including some console based clients. 'mpc' is a very simple command-line client which you can run like 'mpc play', 'mpc pause', 'mpc stop' etc. and this can be used in a script easily. There's also libmpdclient for writing your own compiled program. 'ncmpc' and 'ncmpcpp' are good console based MPD clients for normal use.

When you change the music library you'll want to issue an update command before doing anything else.

If you're into hardware hacking then a 'keyboard' with few buttons can be made fairly simply. Get a spare (cheap/dirty/broken) USB keyboard, take it apart and remove everything except the circuit board and cable. You'll find two rows of contacts next to eachother which used to make contact with the keyboard matrix. Simply short any wire from one row to any on the other row and it will be like a key was pressed. Find the pair of contacts for the keys you want your program/script to respond to (good luck ) and solder wires to them. These pairs of wires can be attached to any kind of large button you want.

If there's only one apparent row of contacts, have a look on the two sheets making up the keyboard matrix to see where the split actually is. 'xev' is a good program, in X, to use to find which pairs of contacts are for which keys.

(I wrote that before remembering that the RPi has GPIO pins...)

ps. Where could I find a 45 hour MP3 file? I'd like to see if MPD or RockBox can handle one of them!

bradburts
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:13 am

Tomo2k said:


There are quite a few USB-connected Big Buttons available that enumerate as generic HID.


Would you post some link plz?

This project is very doable, been working on it for a while.

I am left looking for a way to avoid soldering so that the instructions would be best for all.

You can get big button TV remote controls but then you would need LIRC and you're back to soldering & serialising the IR diode.

A simple big button HID or dial with click would be ideal but a keyboard would be too much.

bredman
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:34 am

I would suggest buying a numeric keypad like the following for $6.



Open it up and diasble all keys except 5. Stick a large sheet of stiff plastic over the entire keypad to make one large key.

Use a program like mpg123 to play all the MP3s in a given directory. See a related post in the "educational" sub-forum for an example of an MP3 player.

Use something like sed to map the key "5" to "p" (play/pause).

A minor problem, it would always start at the beginning of the directory at power-up. Actually, this is a major problem. Anybody have any suggestions?

ianm1981
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:14 pm

I'd strongly recomend you look into DAISY book formats for this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....lking_Book They are a format specificly designed for use in visual or print impaired reading. In fact such a project was likely to be one of my first projects once I get my hands on the pi.

I work in the Assistive Technology Sector so I'm often playing with all sorts of crazy ideas on how to get things working for people with various disabilities.

There are also a range of very high contrast large key keyboards available that depending on how severe the Macular degeneration is may be suitable in your grandmothers case. Please feel free to chuck me a PM if you want to know any more or want any help working on this project.

jaytee
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:56 pm

I know that it isn't a Pi thing but....

If your grandmother lives in the UK the RNIB run a talking books library service which can include a suitable player (large tactile buttons etc).

http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingw.....daisy.aspx

These are in DAISY format as mentioned in r-a previous post and are therefore extremely navigable.

I know that similar charities in the USA and Australia offer similar schemes.

Even if you still want to get something working with a R-Pi you might have a source of books readily available.

I work for the RNIB as a developer but in the back office and web stuff.  This sort of thing is something that I have been mulling over doing with the R-Pi as a home project to see what possibilities it has in replacing or complementing the current players.

Steady_Bear
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:20 am

Not sure how well it would work, but an alternative to the buttons could be a joystick. Not sure if there would be trouble with pressing the 'select' button, but a quick scoot about could find a cheap model that is easy to press the button on.

That should provide a very simple left/right, up/down, select interface. Just an idea mind.

I'm not sure if this is of help, but I stumbled across this site a while ago:

http://librivox.org/

It's a repository for people's recordings of them reading books that are now in the public domain (ie the classics). Generally downloadable in a selection of formats. Free for everyone.

truxntrax
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:54 am

I would say the suggestion about getting her an internet connection is a must have.  Here in the UK there are very cheap ADSL internet connections.  I pay for one for my parents.  It's about £6/ month.  I am the account holder and pay the bill.  My parents don't really know they have it…  They just kind of think the internet is inside their computer.  (Yes I have done my best to explain).

I think you would need this to be able to ssh in frequently and check that everything you had set up was working for her.  Everynow and again you will need to check something or reboot and if you are not near your relative will be stuck.

It's a god send for me that I can remote desktop to my parents and sort out their issues.  I visit all the time but it's so much easier to have remote access and you can sort for them instantly.

John

iainm
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:57 am

Hi we have developed a Daisy Player for the Pi, still in early stages but may solve the reading problems. We are still hunting for an cheap usb keypad and box though.

Nulla
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Re: Raspberry pi for an old blind lady (with remote)

Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:31 am

I know about the DAISY package in the Debian repository but this seems to handle audio only DAISY books. I'm keen to try out options for full text / audio DAISY books like Emerson (http://goo.gl/H2EHl). Has anyone looked into something like this? I believe I'm going to have to try the soft float Debian OS to cater for something like Emerson as it uses Java.

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