[Loadstone] Perhaps a little OT, but My preliminary impression of WayfinderAccess.

Shawn Kirkpatrick shawn at odyssey.cm.nu
Wed Jun 6 10:37:03 BST 2007


Thanks for the review. It's always interesting to see what the other guys 
are doing. Over $500 for that! That's a bit high to say the least. If nuance 
is going to release an update to talks I wonder if it'll be free and if 
it'll add anything that might be of help in other applications.

On Wed, 6 Jun 2007, Geoff Waaler wrote:

> Greetings,
>
> I posted the following to another list, but decided to cross post it here.
>
> On Monday WayFinder corporation released WayFinder Access nearly three
> months after the date initially promised in their February product
> announcement.  The "official" description of WFA is available at
> http://www.wayfinder.com/products/wayfinder_access.en.php?link_id=submenu_st
> atic
>
> Bare in mind that running Wayfinder requires a subscription to a cell phone
> carriers data plan.  There's no room on most phones to store maps, hence the
> need for access to the net while in use.  I confirmed Neil B of Talknav's
> pricing info and since WFA is available through his company for $125 less
> than the regular price until Friday I wanted to share my preliminary
> observations.
>
> I can't restrain myself from starting out by commenting on the regular price
> which is $539.00.  I purchased Wayfinder's over the counter product called
> WayFinderNavigator for $99 and for my money do not see anything in their
> access product to account for five and a half times the cost.  Did I mention
> that Wayfinder offers upgrade pricing to all its other customers, with the
> exception of Access?  What a great way to reward their loyal customers who
> have limped along with so many inaccessible features for years.
>
> Using the main stream product I can search for businesses either near by or
> in distant cities.  I can add them to my favorites and compute routes based
> on current GPS coordinates and receive voice guidance.  The routing often
> does not make sense but is over all helpful.
>
> I won't mention how as of Monday WayFinderAccess's installation process was
> inaccessible, but then again I just did, didn't I?  Hmmm, suppose I'm
> expecting a lot for $539 after a three month wait.  Actually to be fair,
> that was a gratuitous slam on my part;  I am given to understand that
> CodeFactory will release an update to their product by the end of the week
> which renders WayFinder's web pages accessible, and Nuance is expected to do
> likewise for Talks in the short term.  Fortunately I had a neighbor near by
> who was willing to disclose which options were highlighted on the phone, but
> this is often not the case.
>
> WFA's look feel and interface is  very similar to Navigator, however five
> text based list views have been added as follows:
> Info: contains current position, heading and GPS status.
> and the next four are vicinity views presenting a list ordered by current
> proximity which includes:
> all: a blend of the following three.
> crossing: lists intersections.
> favorite: orders distance to items previously added to favorites.
> POI: database of known points of interest.  Categories such as "Rent a car
> Facility", " restaurant" "ATM", etc may be configured so as not to appear.
>
> This is absolutely a great feature.  More over I like the fact that one can
> now use other features which were inaccessible in the main stream product
> such as obtaining the phone number for located businesses, and perhaps its a
> bell and whistle thing, but
> getting weather conditions is kind of neat.  I wonder whether the free
> screen reader updates referenced above which are specifically for
> compatibility with WFA will improve accessibility  to features in WayFinder
> Navigator?
>
>> From the info tab I can add my own personal points.  I am unable to do that
> using the main stream product, and of course this capability is a valuable
> addition.
>
> Granted this is the initial release and many features will be tweaked or
> added.  Not sure since WayFinder chose not to offer upgrade pricing
> initially how much potential improvements will cost WFA customers, but IMHO
> The present form of its implementation largely renders these list views to a
> state where they are of marginal utility.
>
> When you go to one of these list views the proximity and distance are spoken
> (usually twice) before you hear the name of the point.  The double speaking
> is attributable to the fact that the list refreshes every couple seconds
> there by causing Talks or presumably MobileSpeak to reread the line, so I
> might hear something like the following while in the crossing view:
> "255 feet, 278 degree Ea ... 235 feet, 264 degree East Franklin Street South
> Boundary and North Boundary".  By the time it has read two different heading
> and distance values I've had to wait several seconds before hearing the
> information I always consider more important; after all what's the value of
> distance and direction when you don't yet know what is being referenced?
> Perhaps the updated versions of the phone based screen readers will abate
> the double reading in lists that are being updated.  I am using a Nokia 6682
> which does not have as fast a processor as some of the newer phones, and
> this too could be a factor.  Hopefully most won't have this duplication
> because its very annoying.
>
> The other negative is that all values are given in degrees relative to the
> compass, rather than one's own direction of travel.  I've looked all through
> settings and believe I have not missed anything.  So I can walk toward an
> intersection and WFA reports its direction in degrees.  When I turn around
> and walk away I receive identical directional information, though of course
> the distance will begin to increase.
>
> This won't be a problem for those who have an instant protractor in their
> heads, but even then this implementation is kind of dubious compared to
> directional feedback from other accessible GPS solutions.  Lets say I want
> to ascertain my distance from a POI that's in WFA's database.  After hearing
> the line twice and listening through all the degree and distance info I
> finally hear the name of the place.  I then have to recall its direction
> which is some number between zero and 360.  Lets pull a number out of the
> air like 227 degrees.  Okay, now I must keep that number in my brain and
> press left arrow four times to the info tab.  After saying "loading ..." I
> can then down arrow twice to obtain my heading.  lets pull another number
> out of our hats and say 310 degrees (on some streets this varies up to 90
> degrees and is literally all over the map -- curious how you can feel it
> while driving, but the curves are gradual hence I don't notice most of them
> while walking).  Anyway, did you recall where that desired POI was?  After
> all those key presses I kinda forgot myself, but okay, so we have 227
> degrees as our target, and a baring of 310, which I believe puts it on our
> left, unless the street curved again.  Am I getting closer or further?  Hmm,
> suppose I'd better press right arrow four times and locate that place again
> and hopefully I remembered its distance from before.  To be sure there are
> constraints involved with phone software, but to me this interface/output is
> not very efficient compared to other solutions.
>
> Unless I learn within the next day or two that I missed a few things, my
> intention is to stick with what I have for now.  A free Symbian based GPS
> phone application called loadstone is available from
> http://www.loadstone-gps.com which does an excellent job with all the
> basics.  Loadstone's downside is that the POIS are exclusively of the "do it
> yourself" variety.  You can mark your own or download free data from the net
> (which is very limited).  To fill in when I want to locate near by
> businesses I'll continue using WayfinderNavigator.  I would have been more
> than willing to reward WayFinder for developing an accessible version
> however from what I've seen the initial pricing of four times that of their
> main stream product was outrageous enough IMHO, and now its been increased
> to almost 5.5 times that of Navigator?  I don't think so!!
>
> Best regards.
> Geoff
>
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