Category Archives: Accessibility

Eye-Tracking Software

If you work with website design, then you have heard of eye-tracking software. It provides you with, among other things, heat maps:

Software that allows you to really identify where people are looking on your website is relatively expensive. However, Texas Tech University now has a product at a much more reasonable price.

Called Grinbath’s EyeGuide, it was invented at Texas Tech and currently sells for $1,500.

“We needed eye tracking in our lab because of client demand,” said Dr. Brian Still, CEO of Grinbath and the current director of Tech’s Usability Research Lab. “Many of the current eye tracking devices, although very good, are far too expensive for many out there. I just couldn’t choose buying one of those over paying a graduate assistant.

“So we made EyeGuide™. Initially it served as a solution just for us, but as we worked with it and improved it, we realized that it offered a viable solution for others like us who research users or build products, design advertising, or engage in other activities that could benefit from eye tracking research.”


Reading Ebooks Underwater

Yes, there is a desire to read even while scuba diving! If you dive deep enough, then you have to ascend in stages slowly so you don’t get the bends.

These 2 divers wanted to do something constructive with their ascent time, so each purchased a Sony Reader and had specialized cases created for them so they could manipulate it while under water. Take a look:

Word Lens App

An app that not only translated what is in front of it, but keep the formatting and colors of everything around it? Take a look at Word Lens.

This is free and comes with the English/Spanish and Spanish/English translations; other languages are $5 each.

[from Wired]

Help is Coming for Sloppy Typists

Help is on its way not only sloppy typists, but for those of you struggling to type on the touchscreen keyboards of your smartphones. As long as you are close enough to the correct letters, your words will appear! Take a look:

BlindType is not yet available, but its two creators have said that the beta is coming soon. I’ll be watching for it!

[from Singularity Hub]


Raise your hand if you like wearing bifocals!  Trifocals? Help may be on the way . . .

Later this year, you may be hearing about “e-glasses,” which adapt to where you’re looking with the click of a button. One click, close reading; another click, distance; a third click, mid-distance. From CNET:

The lenses are made with a type of liquid crystal, sandwiched between traditional plastic lenses, that reacts according to the electrical charge passing through it. The frames run on rechargeable batteries. Pressing the button sends a low-wattage jolt through the liquid crystal, which expands or contracts to change the shape of the lenses, thereby changing the focal range.
PixelOptics, the company creating the glasses, is also determining how to have the glasses automatically adjust — by where your head is. Looking down? Close work. Looking forward? Distance.  How are they doing this? The same way the iPods do — using accelerometers.
If you want the details, this 8-minute video is quite interesting:

Fonts with Feelings

Microsoft has just received a patent for “Fonts with Feelings.”

Font characters are modified based on user interaction to enhance the user’s understanding and/or fluency of the word. The font characters can have sound, motion and altered appearance.

Basically, the words could reflect their meanings using the font. Here’s a video showing an early example.

[from Slashdot]

Yes Virginia – There is an iPad!

At 99 years old, Virginia Campbell had never owned a computer before, but wanted an iPad. As the video below shows, she easily took to it:

With a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, she loved to read, but glaucoma had made it difficult. The iPad has allowed her not only to read, but compose!


Captions in YouTube

Google has been working on speech-to-text functionality and has now brought it to the YouTube audience. “Auto-captioning” will be available (over time) for all videos uploaded to YouTube. There are some caveats, though:

  • Right now, English only
  • If it is difficult to understand the speaker, it will be difficult or impossible to provide a caption
  • Captioning will not be perfect, but owners can edit or upload their own caption

It looks like captioning is an “opt out” function;. That is, the caption is shown by default; you have to turn it off if you don’t want it. Here’s an example (hover over the arrow in the bottom right):

Twenty hours of video is uploaded per hour — it will take a while for this to be available across all videos, but won’t it be great when it is! In addition to providing additional accessibility, it will also provide additional text for search engines, so video will be found much more easily.

[from ResearchBuzz]

Funeral for IE6

A web design group in Denver, Colorado, hosted a funeral for Internet Explorer 6 on March 4, 2010. The death of the browser on March 1st was brought about as a “result of a workplace injury sustained at the headquarters of Google, Inc;” they ended support of IE6 for Google Docs and Google Sites; soon after, YouTube joined this group.

The announcement of the funeral resulted in over 1,000 RSVPs and a page of remembrances. Microsoft sent flowers.

FYI – It looks to me like Microsoft will support IE6 through 2013, when they stop supporting Windows XP SP3. I’d be glad to be proven wrong on this.

[from Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

Another Study of Password Use

Over the years, there have been studies of passwords used that have told us over and over that we (the public) do not choose strong passwords. The latest confirms this – again.

This study, however, was a little different than most that have gone before. Instead of using surveys to ask about password information, they actually had a list of 32,000,000 passwords that were posted because of a security breach. Using the list of passwords, Imperva did some analysis and guess what? They came up with the same problems we’d seen in earlier studies:

  • Passwords were too short
  • Used just alpha-numeric characters
  • Used identifiable names or dictionary words or slang

So, for years we’ve been touting the use of stronger passwords, but have people actually taken notice? Doesn’t look like it. “You can lead a horse to water . . . ” So, what is to be done?

It’s time for a different security mechanism – we can’t change human nature. What’s coming? There are many techniques being researched. Just a few: