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TI recently published a photo on their Facebook page on what seems to be a new calculator/calculator add-on called Orion TI-84 Plus.
Quote:
A specially adapted version of the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus calculator will transform STEM education for students who are blind and visually impaired.

Learn more about Orion TI-84 Plus, the world's first handheld talking graphing calculator: http://bit.ly/13om7TT via American Printing House for the Blind

Photo credit: APH


Any thoughts? I for one am hoping that it is released as an add-on for existing calculators. This might result in another OS upgrade as well. I'm also wondering whether this will work with the upcoming TI-84+ CSE.
"We got rid of the screen, made no other changes, and now it's 50 dollars more expensive" -TI.

hehe
souvik1997 wrote:
I for one am hoping that it is released as an add-on for existing calculators. This might result in another OS upgrade as well. I'm also wondering whether this will work with the upcoming TI-84+ CSE.


Quoting the press release:

Quote:
The Orion TI-84 Plus consists of a compact accessory that is attached to the top of the TI-84 Plus and enables a user who is visually impaired to interact with the TI-84 Plus using speech, audio, and haptic (vibration) feedback. All textual and symbolic information on the screen, as well as each key-press is spoken using high-quality synthesized speech. Most importantly, graphs can be explored using either spoken announcements or the SonoGraph™ audio and haptic feedback. The user can also review the contents of the screen at any time, including all text and graphical information, without affecting the calculation.

The unit is fully expandable with hardware accessories through a USB port and can also print or emboss graphs when connected to a printer or braille embosser.


So it seems that it will be compatible with existing calcs (though it remains to be seen with which calcs it will be compatible). It also implies an OS upgrade to handle the speech, audio, and haptic feedback. This also means that programs should be updated to be compatible with the new hardware. My guess is that TI will make Basic programs compatible to some degree (as in reading out Disp text), but assembly programmers will be on their own.
Took them long enough! In college my dad and a team of classmates built a talking TI-59.
I bet $20 that the OS will send the text to the synthesizer through the serial port, because TI wouldn't give the manufacturer specs for the USB port.

I also bet a complete TI-84+CSE that the Orion will, instead of using a dedicated speech synth chip like the Speak & Spell, feature a CPU far more powerful than the Z80 inside the TI-84+, once again proving TI's commitment not to invest the money into the platform needed to keep it viable.
DrDnar wrote:
I bet $20 that the OS will send the text to the synthesizer through the serial port, because TI wouldn't give the manufacturer specs for the USB port.


The link port normally transfers data at 9.6 kbps. Compressed audio is typically 128 kbps. Speech synth at 9.6 kbps would sound like garbage because the sampling rate would have to be much too low to produce intelligible speech. And that's even when the calculator is doing almost nothing but playing audio; Orion apparently runs on top of the normal software operations, meaning the quality may be even further reduced. I think it is much more likely that USB will be the transfer method of choice.
You clearly misunderstand. The Z80 is almost certainly not capable of speech-synthesis. Most likely, the OS will send TEXT (see how I specified that above?) to the attachment, which will contain an ARM and/or speech-synthesis DSP that performs the actual speech-synthesis.

Additionally, cell phones can compress voice-only audio to as little as 2.2 kpbs because human speech encode far less entropy than the music a typical 128 kpbs MP3 encodes.
DrDnar wrote:
Most likely, the OS will send TEXT (see how I specified that above?) to the attachment, which will contain an ARM and/or speech-synthesis DSP that performs the actual speech-synthesis.


I thought you meant sending the audio over the link port. Sorry about that. In that case, yes, the link port would work.
DrDnar wrote:
The Z80 is almost certainly not capable of speech-synthesis.

Malarkey. It might be expensive in terms of memory, and I won't comment on the likelihood of TI actually doing so, but the Z80 certainly has sufficient power to synthesize a collection of canned words and phrases.
TI are pretty boss at DSP sorts of stuff. I would be a little surprised if a TI DSP wasn't used for this application, but perhaps it's a case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing.


Their semiconductors division is 96% of their revenue, and education is only 4%.
My optimistic prediction is that this device will take screenshots via the link port when the "speak" button is pressed, interpret the resulting image, and use that to generate audio, haptic feedback, and the rest. Of course, then they'd need to identify text and such, which sounds a bit slow and kludgy. Does anyone know of a way to dump the current homescreen image as text?
textShadow?
Again, to highlight this again
Quote:
The unit is fully expandable with hardware accessories through a USB port and can also print or emboss graphs when connected to a printer or braille embosser.


I wonder if this will simply dump the graph screen and if 3rd parties could use the printer
I am blind out of my right eye, I can still see the screen very well, but I think that this will be GREAT!!!
Also. do you think that we wil be able to "hack" it so as to use it a speaker for MobileTunes? or even use it to play better music on the calculator?
willwac wrote:
Also. do you think that we wil be able to "hack" it so as to use it a speaker for MobileTunes? or even use it to play better music on the calculator?
I see you haven't tried TruSound, TruVid and FourVid by thepenguin77.
chickendude wrote:
textShadow?
Yes, that's where it's stored, but do we know a canonical linking command to dump out the contents of textShadow? AHelper, yes, I'm thinking it simply takes a screenshot and dumps that. I wonder how it would/will work with the color screen...
Hayleia wrote:
willwac wrote:
Also. do you think that we wil be able to "hack" it so as to use it a speaker for MobileTunes? or even use it to play better music on the calculator?
I see you haven't tried TruSound, TruVid and FourVid by thepenguin77.

I have heard of TrueSound, but you may be able to make it better!
KermMartian wrote:
chickendude wrote:
textShadow?
Yes, that's where it's stored, but do we know a canonical linking command to dump out the contents of textShadow?
Now that i don't know Razz It doesn't seem like it'd be that complicated, though.
Is this an add-on, or another calculator itself?
If it's an add-on, the screen-shot could be delivered through the I/O port, and any text/special info (i.e. picture/graph desc.) through the USB
KermMartian wrote:
chickendude wrote:
textShadow?
Yes, that's where it's stored, but do we know a canonical linking command to dump out the contents of textShadow?

As a matter of fact, yes: 73 6F 06 00 00 00 08 85 80 00 0D 01

Not that I think that doing so would make for a good user interface at all. More likely there's an application on the calc, or a specially modified OS, that manages the audio UI.
  
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