Over the last several years I've been dealing with various stages of disability thanks to ALS. My goal is to share solutions and review various products/tools/devices that I have found particularly helpful.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Blue Ant

No… not this guy!
A few months back I came a cross the blue ant commute hands free device, which seem to address an issue I've been having with my iPhone. Which is, hands-free answering, and while I've jailbroken my iPhone to allow hands-free control, the one big thing that's missing is the ability to verbally answer a call. Sure, I can activate Siri and place a call. But if someone is calling me, I still have to pick up my phone and physically answer it.

Honestly, I think this is probably the single biggest accessibility feature missing from Apple products. Voice triggering. I really wish they would add it, if they had I very likely would not have jail broken my iPhone.

What caught my attention was that once this devices. With your phone, it acts like any other hands-free device but allows voice activation. I could toggle Siri simply by saying "launch phone control", which is essentially the same function provided by the jailbreak with hands-free control. But if someone were to call me, the blue ant would ring, in the same way as it would a Bluetooth headset but, having integrated with my phonebook it will verbally tell me who's calling and all I have to do is send say "answer".

Needless to say, with failing dexterity this is rather interesting.

I've been using it on and off for couple months and surprisingly I'm not finding it quite as useful as I had hoped. First of all, I'm told that the audio quality for the person I'm talking to is quite good. Better than with other hands-free devices. However there are three things which I find really get in the way of regular usage.
  1. Voice to text speech recognition… Not so hot.
    I use this far more frequently than I do for making or answering phone calls.. Updating my status on Facebook, sending text messages or quickly replying to an e-mail. I use voice to text quite a bit. I have found that going through the blue and commute significantly diminishes the recognition accuracy. Which is really quite unfortunate.
  2. Another device to carry around…
    For me, the whole point of going to the iPhone and keeping with my was the reduction of things that they needed to have attached to my waist. Providing the maximum amount of functionality for the least amount of stuff. The blue ant commute, would require me to carry around another device. And at this point, verbally being able to answer calls does not add sufficient utility to justify.
  3. Cannot verbally hang up
    we've all been there
    It's great to be able to answer hands-free, but if you can't have some other means to end the call. You're still required to manually terminated either by manipulating your iPhone or the blue ant itself. This might not sound like that big of a deal, but when you want to get off the phone with the telemarketer or someone who just… Won't… Shut… Up…
The blue ant commute usually retails for around $100 Canadian. I however found it on sale for about $70.

Don't get me wrong, the device does have its usefulness and is I've said, the audio quality for regular phone calls is really quite good. It is small (almost the same dimensions as the iPhone 5), easily portable and is something that can easily be attached to the side wheelchair, your belt and so forth as it's intended to be mounted on the sun visor of your car. I should however point out, I've not used it in the car yet.

So, if you do not want to jailbreak your iPhone (and with IOS 7, you presently can't anyway) this could be a pretty good way to get some hands-free control back. Sure, the Bluetooth range on the blue ant isquite good and I can probably use it throughout my house, but because of the limitations mentioned above, I still prefer to carry around my iPhone. It is presently Velcro to my waist. 

The utility of the blue ant is good, but just not sufficient to completely address my needs for day-to-day use at this point in time. So in conclusion:

No comments:

Post a Comment