Thursday, January 21, 2010

Talking PhoneBook: Eyes-Free Communication Device

Video: Talking Phonebook: Eyes-Free Communication Device

1 Video: Talking Phonebook: Eyes-Free Communication Device

Device Used: T-Mobile G1 from HTC

Pressing the menu button while in the Talking Dialer toggles between dialing mode and phonebook. When in phonebook, you get eyes-free access to your contacts with the ability to quickly move to the contact that you wish to call.

When in the phonebook, you can scroll through your contacts and press the call button to call the current contact. In addition, you can use stroke dialing as explained below to quickly move to a specific contact.

1.1 Entering Letters Using Stroke dialing

We covered eyes-free input with the touch screen in the earlier video on stroke dialing --- in that video, we illustrated the concept via a traditional phone keypad. Here, we extend that technique to enable textual input. In the explanation below, we will use compass directions to help with orientation. As before, we will use relative positioning i.e., for the rest of this explanation, you can start anywhere on the touch-screen --- though we recommend (for reasons that will become evident) that you start somewhere close to the middle of the screen.

1.2 The Eight Compass Directions

Defining the center as where you first touch down on the screen, notice that you can stroke in any one of the 8 compass directions, and that opposite pairs of compass directions e.g., North and South, can be thought of as opposites. So we get 4 pairs. We enumerate these below, associate them with the 4 Google colors, and equate them to their equivalent strokes from the stroke dialer:

  • Red: North-West and South-east 1 and 9.
  • Blue: North and South --- 2 and 8.
  • Green: North-East and South-West --- 3 and 7.
  • Yellow: East and West --- 4 and 6.

Now, let's place the letters of the alphabet on these 4 circles as follows:

  • Red: A ... H
  • Blue: I ... P
  • Green: Q ... X
  • Yellow: Y ... Z.

To input a given letter, we stroke to the circle containing the desired letter, trace along the circle till we hear the letter we want, and lift up the finger to make the selection. Letters are spoken in a female voice while moving along the selected circle; lifting up the finger speaks the selected letter in a male voice.

Notice that conceptually, we have defined a fairly simple mapping from strokes to letters of the alphabet!

1.3 Skimming The Contact List

So to cut a long story short, you dont need to scroll through the contact list. To quickly jump to a contact, use the technique described above to input the first letter from the contact's name --- the aplication jumps to contacts starting with that letter. At that point, you can either scroll, or enter additional letters to further filter the contact list.

1.4 Examples Of Using Strokes For Letters

Notice from the mapping shown earlier that we can enter each circle either at the top or bottom. Thus, entering the red circle at the top gets to A, while entering it at the bottom gets us to E. This means that the 8 letters on any given circle are no more than 3 steps away --- for example, to enter C, one needs to trace clockwise from A, or counter-clockwise from E. As an example, H is only 1 step from A on the red circle. similarly, P is only 1 step from I on the blue circle.

Author: T.V Raman <raman@google.com>

Date: 2009-03-30 Mon

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