Like a few other Bloggers this year I can say that I am not attending CSUN, however, I do have friendly spies there feeding me back info. There are two main reasons for me not going to L.A. this year. One is that I am going to NFB National Convention in Dallas. That show is here in my backyard and with gas prices the way they are this show will be far cheaper for me personally. The second reason is that most of the big named stuff I either already have or I am working with now or I was playing with it during the Beta process. Yeah I know "Cry me a river Ranger". I'm sorry to say that this is an occupational hazard more often than it sounds. Keeping it all straight in my head, and remembering when I can officially blog about it without me being carted off in the night, is another one of those *hazards*.
Anyway, I'm looking on the web a lot this week for others to post things that I am under NDA or "Gentleman's Agreement" not to blog about. Today I want to point out and thank Blind Bargains for posting on the new all in one Trekker Breeze. Because now I can talk about it a bit more openly. the link below will take you to the BB site. Then the paragraphs below are just me talking sarcastically about industry stuff. If you don't want to be bored to tears by that just read the link below and skip the rest. And a shout out to all the gang at BB for their great ATIA, and now CSUN, work. Keep'em flying guys!
The Breeze is one of those devices that we will start seeing in earnest as two markets within Blindness AT are growing far more faster than other traditional segments of the industry. The Older American/Baby Boomer market was always a big part of who we serve but now you can add the rapidly growing Veterans Administration to the ranks as well. Where some of us Blind Geeks will find our selves in the position of doing over the next few years is looking at these newer and entry level devices from a more advanced user stand point. Hey we are Blind .. 'ahem Enthusiasts.. it is what we do right? Well not to go all Star Wars on this post today but.. We aren't the Droids they are looking for with the Breeze.
Simplicity, ease of use and even a limited feature set will be the waves of the future on some emerging products. Because that is what those parts of the audience ask for in a program, device or accessory. Taking a step back and putting my mind in the role of the newly Blinded or newer user is a difficult process for this old jaded guy who remembers when Video Magnifier manufacturers dared to call their units weighing 50 pounds "Portable". Talk about your heavy lifting job requirements.. and *hazards*.
Humanware set off to make the new Breeze smaller and far less complicated than their current edition. They also looked at cost as well because that is certainly one of the more attractive factors about the Victor Reader Stream. But, and I hate to characterize this unit this way, it kind of reminds me of that old line of Fisher Price "My First.." types of products. Say like "My First Record Player" and the like. My crude description not withstanding, the Breeze is set out to be the unit that can introduce someone to the wonderful liberating world of GPS. Or a tool that can be shown to early travelers who are just starting out in learning their Orientation and Mobility. Humanware has been conducting a pilot program with O&M Specialists for the last few months prior to this announcement and I am told that the feedback has been very positive so far.
The unit has fewer buttons, a far more simpler menu system and it still can be updated with the latest maps like it's older brother. I was told a few months ago that the older Trekker is still going to be around for advanced users who need more in a GPS. Also there is the Braill and Voice Note versions too if someone finds that they need a whole lot more info than the Breeze will provide.
Still, there is that old adage "You gotta start somewhere" and the Breeze may be another of those Humanware products that are the right device, for the right time and for the right price. We're just six months away from the Holiday Shopping season and I could imagine a few brightly colored trees being swayed by a cool Breeze..