Tuesday, March 10

Thoughts on Street Talk version 2

Greetings. I learned from reading the daily deals from the Blind Bargains site today, that Freedom Scientific is poised to release the next version of street Talk for the PAC Mate. It will be called Street Talk VIP and the you can read all about it from the link above.

While I'm pleased that they're finally going to release the long awaited Street Talk version 2, even though that's not what they're calling it, there are several things of note here. First, it's not called Street Talk version 2. Since the PAC Mate went to the Omni, all we heard from FS is that they were "working on the next version of Street Talk." However, this grows even more curious and interesting when you consider where they went with Street Talk. If you read the Blind Bargains post carefully, you se that FS has adopted the Sendero GPS program model and pricing for their GPS solution. Why is this significant? For the longest time, what differed Street Talk and the Sendero Group GPS solution, among other things, was the price. Street Talk 1 was around $600 for the full package, of hardware GPS, Street Talk 1.0 software, and appropriate connection cards for the PAC Mate. Verses the varying cost of the sendero GPS product, which usually ends up being around $1,500, which included their GPS software and minimum specs on storage cards and connection. Since I've never invested in either of these solutions, my quoting of what they include might be slightly off. However, the fact remains that FS was charging less than half of what the Sendero Group was charging for similar GPS software. If you look at all of the products that use the Sendero GPS software, such as the Braille Note line, the Voice Sense and Sense Nav products, and others, they tend to revolve around the $1,500 pricing point. Why so expensive? From what I've heard, it's due to the extremely accurate GPS data and that these programs are customized for the blind user. Street Talk was customized for the blind user, but only in the since that the Street Talk software itself was customized for the blind PAC Mate user. The other parts of the Street Talk package, including the off the shelf Destinator software that also ran with Street Talk, were just that--off the shelf. In other words, they were what any normal sighted geek would use on their mobile device. Okay, perhaps the mobile device of the sighted geek didn't use an older version of Destinator, but they did use the same software in that regard as blind folk with their PAC Mates. Now though, that's not the case.

I can't help but wonder why FS chose to go in this direction of going for one of the "blind oriented" GPS packages, rather than continuing to innovate with Street Talk. We may never know, at least not publicly, but I would like to ask an FS rep this question,along with the following: is this a sign of things to come? Are you going to move more toward what the other GPS packages and related note takers for the blind on the market are doing, such as with the Braille Note and Voice Sense, in that they are in a closed operating system? This could be a sign of things to come, or, it could just be a small piece in the over all FS product catelog. Either way, it's an interesting move. I'm sure that they will promote the new Street Talk VIP heavily over the next few months, at CSUN and the summer convensions, and at the other trade shows they go to throughout the rest of the year. I can't help but return to that initial question though of "Why the switch to the Sendero Group products?" Time will tell I suppose.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:11 PM

    Hello i think you just need to brake down and buy the ever cheeper Net book. and as far as GPS get an N82 or compreble phone and get way finder access. Yes there is a data plan invaled in getting this gps how ever the cost is way down then the sendaro moble Ge o gps solution. Dont get a pack mate omniy or braille note M power save your self money and get the Net book and for $150 more you can add a screen reader to it from serotek.com. That is cheeper then eather Jaws for windows or windo eyes. Pluss it can use eather deck talk voices or neo speech kate and Paul. Couple that with remote access with any other s a moble user and you have got a product that realy kills the compotition.