Handheld Device Offers Descriptions for Guests with Disabilities


SeaCastle

Playlist Author
From the Disney Parks blog...

Kathleen Prihoda said:
Here at Disney Parks, we’re always looking for new ways to make attractions and experiences more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. Today, I got a sneak peek at a first-of-its-kind technology that will change the way some guests with disabilities experience Disney parks.



Disney engineers have plussed up their Assistive Technology Device to provide detailed descriptions of outdoor areas for visually impaired guests. Using an interactive audio menu, guests can choose the type of information they’d like to receive, from architectural elements to the location of the nearest restroom. It works using wireless technology to pinpoint its location and take pre-programmed actions. Best of all, it fits in the palm of your hand.



The Disney engineers I talked to reminded me that the device already combines many other features, including detailed audio description for more than 50 attractions; amplified audio for guests with mild to moderate hearing loss; handheld captioning that lets guests read captions while enjoying specific rides; and activation of closed captioning on television displays in pre-show areas.

Here's a sample:



Disney has already patented and licensed the technology for the handheld device, which could serve a wide variety of retail, commercial and industrial applications. And industry insiders and techies are already taking notice. The National Society of Professional Engineers just lauded the device as the new product of the year.

The Handheld Assistive Technology Device will be available starting June 27 for guests at Walt Disney World Resort and in 2011 in Disneyland Resort, for no additional cost.
 

The Trout

Member
The detailed descriptions for over 50 attractions sounds like fun. Kinda like the old Audio Tour for the Blind. Kinda wondering how the "amplified audio" works, though, and what it might contain.
 

Club 33

Playlist Author
Those devices are already being used at Disneyland- they've been at Epcot too but I guess they're finally putting them in the other parks as well. At Disneyland, unfortunately the quality is still mostly crap. Last year they introduced a new feature which was audio description for attractions; I think basically they can update the software to use new information they transmit.
 

Horizons

Playlist Author
My guess is that no enhancements were made to the attraction audio. So the previous recordings that stink will continue to stink. The audio descriptions sound interesting and I'm sure I'll record a few, unless someone beats me to it.
 

Horizons

Playlist Author
do you have to pay to use these? how does that work?
You put a deposit down (I think it's $100). Otherwise, it's free to use. I couldn't find the exact model for EPCOT, but, a few years ago, I purchased my own receiver for the other three parks. It looks like this won't work anymore.

The sound quality is all over the place.
 

The Trout

Member
While the audio may have been iffy on the old devices, it's a bit early to say that the sound quality is "all over the place" this time, given that these are NEW devices that won't even be available until tomorrow in WDW and 2011 in Disneyland. We don't know how much new audio they recorded or how many tracks were redone.
 

Horizons

Playlist Author
While the audio may have been iffy on the old devices, it's a bit early to say that the sound quality is "all over the place" this time, given that these are NEW devices that won't even be available until tomorrow in WDW and 2011 in Disneyland. We don't know how much new audio they recorded or how many tracks were redone.
And who said that with respect to the new device? The device as depicted in the photo above is identical to what's currently used in EPCOT (the other parks had a much smaller device).
 

Magic Music

Administrator
Playlist Author
Um, nope I didn't.
So, then what did you mean by your statement? ;)

According to the Disney Parks Blog post, Ms. Prihoda says that she got a sneak peek at new technology that won't be available until June 27. Club 33 then informs us that the devices are already being used at Disneyland, which is contrary to Ms. Prihoda's statement that they won't be available there until 2011. He says "the quality is still mostly crap," and then you chime in to say that "previous recordings that stink will continue to stink."

As for the photo, it sure doesn't look like a woman to me, so I am going to assume it is stock. How many people on the various Disney fan sites have complained about stock footage of Disneyland attractions appearing in commercials for Walt Disney World?

I am with The Trout. Let's wait and see what Santa brings us before we start complaining about it. If Ms Prihoda is wrong, and these devices turn out to be the ones that are already in the parks, then we can bitch and moan.

While we are doing that, though, let's remember that these devices are actually intended to be used by handicapped persons — not theme park audio collectors — and I am sure they find them to be an absolute Godsend.
 

Horizons

Playlist Author
So, then what did you mean by your statement? ;)
Well, since I was talking about the old receiver I had for MK, AK, and DHS, I think it's fair to say I was saying the quality of the current system is all over the place. :)

According to the Disney Parks Blog post, Ms. Prihoda says that she got a sneak peek at new technology that won't be available until June 27.
I will let you know my test results tomorrow, although a few people have already had the luxury of trying out the device (and new enhancements).

so I am going to assume it is stock.
Based on the focus group shots I saw, this is the device, which looks identical to the current EPCOT model. I spoke with the guy in charge of the ALD system a few times before. He told me that all parks would be going to the EPCOT design (which also uses a different frequency than the others).
 

Magic Music

Administrator
Playlist Author
Well, since I was talking about the old receiver I had for MK, AK, and DHS, I think it's fair to say I was saying the quality of the current system is all over the place. :itunes:
I was referring to your statement in post #6. You didn't mention anything about older devices until post #8. ;)

I will let you know my test results tomorrow
I'll be out there checking it out, too, although I've got to have a hole in my head, as it's going to be unbelievably crowded and hotter than hell. :)

Based on the focus group shots I saw, this is the device, which looks identical to the current EPCOT model.
If it looks identical to the current Epcot model (which makes sense — why retool the case if you don't have to?), there is no way for us to know when these photos were taken. One thing we can be reasonably sure of is that Kathleen Prihoda is not in these photos. If she is, looking at the close-up shot, I'd say she needs to start soaking her hands in Palmolive. :itunes:

New model or old, they could put new transmitters out there a week from next Thursday, and your reception could go from mediocre to amazing overnight. Kind of like the ongoing AT&T vs Sprint vs Verizon vs how you happen to be holding your new iPhone 4 debate.

Hey, that's it! Maybe you've just been holding your ALS device incorrectly all this time! :mp3:
 

Magic Music

Administrator
Playlist Author
Disney deploys more technology to assist the disabled

By Mark Albright, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, June 23, 2010

[floatright]

[Disney photo]
[/floatright]LAKE BUENA VISTA — With some technological aid, the blind now can ride Toy Story Midway Mania, listening to a narrator describe the action others see in the raucous animated Walt Disney World shoot-em-up.

"We're using technology to make the experience more inclusive," said Greg Hale, worldwide vice president of safety and accessibility for Disney World Parks and Resorts. "People come here in groups, so we don't want someone feeling they must sit outside while others have fun."

Disney spent the last year installing wireless headsets for the blind or deaf in 50 of the 100 rides, attractions and shows in all four of its four Florida parks. This summer Disney followed up by adding recorded narratives describing the immediate surroundings in every outdoor section of each park, including restaurant offerings, restrooms and visual features of the architecture.

It's part of a less-mentioned chapter in the legacy of Walt Disney and his brother Roy who built Epcot to be fully compliant with the American with Disabilities Act 12 years before it was law. Walt Disney Co. developed several patented aids for the disabled in its parks, including coaster seating, and helped write many of the benchmark requirements. Next month the company is getting a new product award for its wireless assistive technology from the National Society of Professional Engineers.

The company also knows it's smart business as marketers begin calling the disabled "the third minority" behind African Americans and Hispanics. About 19 percent of the population, or about 51 million people, is disabled in some way, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Half are younger than 65, and 46 percent are working.

Disney, which specializes in family vacations, knows the disabled seldom travel alone. Hence, Disney water parks stock free aquatic wheelchairs. The golf courses feature tricked-out golf carts with a pivoting seat suitable for those who use wheelchairs to swing a club. Closed captioning or amplified audio has long been available in most attractions.

"We do story telling so we look for ways to enhance it," said Hale, recalling a blind Epcot patron thanking him because "for the first time she found out Figment is a purple dinosaur."

Disney's new wireless system, which replaced clunky pre-recorded cassette tapes that had to be rewound, integrates multiple aids for the disabled into one handheld device about the size and weight of a wallet.

The device picks up signals from strategically deployed GPS, radio and infrared transmitters all over the parks.

Sounds simple. But it took a year to program the software, deploy the hardware out of sight and hire a Boston broadcasting company to write and record thousands of descriptions that can be easily understood by the blind.

"Technology like this is just huge," said Dan Mann, chief executive of Lighthouse of Pinellas, which provides services to the blind and sight-impaired.

Disney officials declined to say how many of the more than 100,000 who visit Disney World every day are disabled. That's because not all the disabled drop by guest relations to check out the free (with a $25 deposit) devices.

"But it's well into the thousands every day," said Hale.

[St. Petersburg Times]
 

Magic Music

Administrator
Playlist Author
Disney Unveils Enhanced Feature for Assistive Technology Device

[floatright]
[/floatright]This Friday, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort will unveil the most recent updates to its handheld Assistive Technology Device (ATD) for guests with hearing and visual disabilities. The device will now offer detailed audio descriptions for outdoor areas in the theme parks.

Thanks to collaboration between Disney, HP and Softeq, that device exists today. It's the award-winning DURATEQ, a customized version of the HP iPAQ PDA.

"Disney had the original vision and it defined the requirements. Softeq handled product development and design, tooling, testing, software development, and overall project management. Holding it all together were the superb features and quality of the HP iPAQ PDA platform. The resulting DURATEQ handheld serves the needs of a wide range of accessibility." says Chris Howard, CEO Softeq Development Corporation.

Disney's Handheld Devices are available at Guest Relations at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. It's free, weighs just 7.2 ounces and fits in the palm of your hand; once you have the device simply go and enjoy your day; the DURATEQ knows what to do. Utilizing Disney's patented location and synchronization technology, it receives data from infrared signals-invisible beams of light-from overhead transmitters located throughout the park, These signals automatically trigger event-synchronized audio and screen displays with no buttons to push except volume control. One guest commented after testing the audio service, Attraction Description, that the device provides something that people with visual disabilities almost never get in real life: "a full description of our surroundings."

The industry is noticing. We send our heartfelt congratulations to Disney for their Assistive Technology Solution being recognized this week by the National Society of Professional Engineers as the "New Product of the Year" winner in the Mega Company Category. Disney's recognition for achievements in accessibility also includes the da Vinci Award for Assistive Technology and the National Association for the Deaf Access Award.

For more information on Softeq's Durateq Assistive Technology Solution please visit our website or contact us at 888.552.5001.

Here is the Disney Press Release:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., June 22, 2010 – National Society of Professional Engineers Names Handheld Assistive Technology Device "New Product of the Year."

Beginning June 27, guests with visual disabilities will be able to explore Walt Disney World theme parks in a whole new way through an enhanced Disney-designed device that provides detailed audio description of outdoor areas and fits in the palm of a guest's hand.

"Disney Parks have long been at the forefront of providing accessibility for guests with disabilities," said Greg Hale, chief safety officer and vice president of Worldwide Safety and Accessibility for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. "We are pleased to build on this legacy with new technology that enables us to do something that has never been done before – provide rich audio description in moving rides and outdoor environments."

Via an interactive audio menu, the newly enhanced Assistive Technology Device lets guests choose the type of information they would like to receive about outdoor areas, from architectural elements to the location of the nearest restroom. The 7.2-ounce device, which utilizes wireless technology to pinpoint its location and take pre-programmed actions, also offers guests at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort:

  • Detailed audio description of key visual elements, including action and scenery, for more than 50 attractions;
  • Amplified audio for most theater-type attractions for guests with mild to moderate hearing loss;
  • Handheld captioning that enables guests to read captions while enjoying specific rides; and
  • Activation of closed captioning in pre-show areas where television displays narrate the upcoming experience.
"I know of no other public space in this country – or anywhere else for that matter – that is as welcoming and accessible to people with disabilities as Disney's theme parks," said Larry Goldberg, director of media access at WGBH Boston, which is considered a pioneer in developing multimedia and new technologies that make media accessible for the disabled. "With their captioning systems for guests who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and now outdoor environmental description for guests who are blind or visually impaired, Walt Disney World is now more inclusive than ever. WGBH is proud of our role in helping make this happen."

WGBH teamed up with Disney to deliver outdoor audio description, marking the latest collaboration between the two organizations, which began with the installation of WGBH's Rear Window® Captioning system in Disney's theater-based attractions in 1996.

Disney has patented and licensed the assistive technology, which could serve a wide variety of retail, commercial and industrial applications. The technology is already being used at the World of Coca Cola Museum, The Hall at Patriot Place and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium and will receive the National Society of Professional Engineers 2010 "New Product Award" next month.

"We are particularly excited to make this technology available beyond Disney Parks and extend accessibility where it was previously impractical," added Hale. Softeq Development Corporation is licensed to make the technology available beyond Disney Parks.

Other examples of Disney Parks' services for guests with disabilities include:

  • Accessible Experiences – From vehicles at Toy Story Midway Mania! that enable guests to remain in their wheelchair to experience the ride to American Sign Language interpretation at live shows, the focus is on providing accessible experiences.
  • Recreation Devices – Specially designed vehicles – such as an adaptive golf cart and sand and aquatic wheelchairs – enable guests to experience leisure activities throughout the resort.
  • Guidemaps For Guests With Disabilities – Theme park-specific maps provide an overview of services and facilities available for guests with disabilities. Braille guidebooks are also available to assist guests during their visit.
  • Resort Access – Resort hotels at Walt Disney World Resort offer special equipment and facilities for guests with disabilities such as phone text, visual indicator door knocks, sloped-entry pools and aquatic chairs.
The Handheld Assistive Device is offered at no cost with a refundable deposit at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort theme parks. Audio description of outdoor areas will be available at Disneyland Resort next year.

For further information about services for guests with disabilities, guests should visit the Walt Disney World Web site at http://www.disneyworld.com/ or contact Walt Disney World Information at 407-824-4321 (voice) or 407-827-5141 (TTY).

[Softeq Blog]
 

Magic Music

Administrator
Playlist Author
DURATEQ ATV

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[/floatright]Get Immersed in the Experience — Make your entertainment and educational venues accessible and immersive to individuals that are visually and/or hearing impaired. The Durateq ATV (Assistive Technology Version) is the most technically advanced solution for facilities such as theme parks and museums delivering technology used by individuals with disabilities. This includes Audio Description, Assistive Listening and Closed Captioning. Based on our own rugged Durateq 3100 handheld, the Durateq ATV is combined with Captioning Studio and ALICE (Assistive LIstening and Captioning Engine) software making it ideal for deployment in facilities desiring greater accessibility to exhibits and attractions content. The Durateq ATV can also support multi-cultural accessibility with an unlimited number of languages.

For a truly immersive experience, content can be triggered automatically as your customer enters an exhibit or show area, with no need of pressing additional buttons or punching in number codes. And more importantly, the content can be synchronized with the audio and video content in the venue for a true real-time experience.

AT-A-GLANCE

Here are some of the main features of the DURATEQ ATV. For a complete list, please download the DURATEQ ATV Datasheet.

  • Audio amplifier supports Assistive Listening volume levels
  • IR receivers for seamlessly synchronizing content with exhibits/shows
  • Compatible with JamSync® technology
  • IR transmitter for enabling captioning content on external monitors
  • GPS can be used to trigger location-based content in outdoor venues
  • FM Receiver supporting FCC designated assistive listening frequencies
  • Large touchscreen for closed captioning
  • Special high-contrast button inputs
  • Vibration alert notifies users of announcements or new information
  • IP54 rated for dust and moisture resistance
  • Military Standard 810-F conformance
  • Based on Durateq 3100 and industry-leading HP iPAQ internals
  • Sealed, secured SD card slot prevents tampering
  • Extended battery life and multi-unit (5U) docking station available
These features make the DURATEQ ATV perfect for industry applications such as museums, theme parks, education, etc.

SPECIFICATIONS

OPERATING SYSTEM/SOFTWARE:

  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 (Premium Edition)
PROCESSOR:

  • Marvell PXA270 processor 520MHz
ASSISTIVE FEATURES:

  • Built-in FM Tuner
  • Audio Amplifier
  • IR Receivers
  • IR Transmitters
  • GPS trigger support
  • Vibration alert
  • ALICE — Assistive Listening and Captioning Engine software
  • High-contrast captioning, buttons designed for low-sight
EXPANSION:

  • Sealed, integraded Secure Digital slot (supports SD/MMC and SDIO)
  • USB 2.0 Client supported via docking connector
  • Expansion module interface (power, serial, and GPIO) supporting GPS, barcode scanner, RFID, magnetic stripe reader, or custom
INTEGRATED WIRELESS:

  • Wi-Fi (WLAN 802.11b), Bluetooth, Serial IR
  • VPN and WEP enhanced security
  • Enhanced security compliant with FIPS 140-2 standard
  • Optional built-in FM Tuner
  • Optional Enhanced IR read/write capable
MEMORY and STORAGE:

  • 576 MB total memory (512 MB ROM and 64 MB SDRAM)
  • Optional storage up to 4 GB via internal SD card slot
DISPLAY:

  • 3.5" (89mm) transflective high visivility TFT, LED backlit LCD
  • QVGA (320 x 200), 64K colors, portait and landscape modes
AUDIO:

  • Integrated microphone and speaker
  • One sealed 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack
POWER:

  • Removable/rechargeable 1440 mAh Lithium-Ion battery
  • Optional extended 2880 mAh Lithium-Ion battery
  • AC Input: 100~240 VAC, 50/60Hz
  • Output Voltage: 5 VDC (typical)
DIMENSIONS (H x W x D) and WEIGHT:

  • 4.88 x 3.00 x 0.75 in
  • 7.2 oz (including the 1440 mAh battery and stylus)
MILITARY STD 810-F

MILITARY STANDARD 810-F CONFORMANCE:

  • Altitude: 15,000 ft
  • Operating Temperature: -22 to 140 F (-30 to 60 C)
  • Storage Temperature: -40 to 158 F (-40 to 70 C)
  • Rain: IEC 60529 IPX4
  • Humidity: 90% on temp cycle -20 to 60 C
  • Blowing Dust: IEC 60529 IP-5X
  • Vibration: loose cargo transportation
For more information on the independent testing performed, see the Durateq Military Standard 810F Whitepaper.

DEVELOPMENT

  • DURATEQ SDK
  • Embedded Visual C++ 4.2, Visual Studio 2003, 2005, 2008
  • Custom mobile software services available
CERTIFICATIONS

  • FCC Class A
  • European CE Mark
  • UL
  • RoHS compliant
  • MILSPEC 810F (IP54)
WARRANTY

Softeq backs the DURATEQ ATV with the following warranty:

  • 1-year parts and labor
  • Optional 2-year and 3-year parts and labor
WHAT'S IN THE BOX

What's inside the DURATEQ box:

  • DURATEQ ATV (color choices available)
  • Removeable flip screen cover
  • Docking station
  • AC Power Adapter
  • USB Cable
  • Stylus
  • Software CD
MORE INFO

For more information, see the DURATEQ ATV datasheet, or read about our complete Assistive Technology solution.

[Durateq ATV]
 

Magic Music

Administrator
Playlist Author
DISNEY DEVICE DELIGHTS

Guest assistive services based on HP iPAQ PDA

[hr]"Disney engineers have worked for years to make the magic of Disney come alive for guests with hearing and/or visual disabilities. The HP iPAQ PDA was clearly the right platform for the assistive device we wanted to build. Collaborating with HP and Softeq made our vision a spectacularly successful reality."
—Greg Hale, Worldwide Safety and Accessibility, WALT DISNEY Parks and Resorts
[hr]
Objective:
Provide lightweight, durable, full-featured assistive device for guests with hearing and visual disabilities

Approach:
Collaborate with HP and Softeq Development Corporation to build DURATEQ assistive device on HP iPAQ PDA platform that integrates Disney's proprietary communication technology and assistive device needs into a single rugged device

IT improvements:
  • Combine multiple assistive devices into one
  • Reduce first-generation weight and bulk significantly
  • Simplify assistive-device infrastructure and maintenance
  • Deploy cost-efficient extensible platform
Business benefits:
  • Bring Disney magic to all guests
  • Delight customers with easy-to-use, convenient device
  • Cut assistive technology development and maintenance costs
  • Create platform with multiple industry and business applications
You're aboard the JUNGLE CRUISE boat Volta Val gliding past elephants, hyenas and hippos. You're about to meet Trader Sam the shrunken-head salesman. But what if you have a visual disability? How could you be included in the parts of this experience that depend on visual information? Or what if you're deaf or hard of hearing and can’t hear what the skipper is saying? That is something Disney engineers have been thinking about for a long time. They wanted to develop an assistive device for guests to use at Disney Parks that was easy to carry, could withstand rain and falls onto concrete, and ran all day without the battery running out.

[hr]"Disney had the original vision and it defined the requirements. Softeq handled product development and design, tooling, testing, software development, and overall project management. Holding it all together were the superb features and quality of the HP iPAQ PDA platform. The resulting DURATEQ handheld serves the needs of a wide range of accessibility."
—Chris Howard, CEO, Softeq Development Corporation, Houston, Texas
[hr]
Thanks to collaboration between Disney, HP and the system integrator Softeq Development Corporation, that device exists today. It's the award-winning DURATEQ, a customized version of the HP iPAQ PDA.

"We had been looking many years for a way to deliver captions in narrative attractions where fixed captioning systems weren’t an option," says Greg Hale, Chief Safety Officer and Vice President of Worldwide Safety and Accessibility for WALT DISNEY Parks and Resorts. "In the HP iPAQ PDA, we not only found a solution but a platform for building handheld captioning, video-captioning activation, assistive listening and audio description into a single lightweight, durable device that is simple to use and easy to maintain."

Award-winning design and engineering
Disney's Handheld Devices are available at Guest Relations at WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort and DISNEYLAND Resort. It's offered at no additional cost, weighs just 7.2 ounces and fits in the palm of your hand; once you have the device simply go and enjoy your day; the DURATEQ knows what to do. Utilizing Disney's patented location and synchronization technology, it receives data from infrared signals — invisible beams of light—from overhead transmitters located throughout the park. These signals automatically trigger event-synchronized audio and screen displays, with no buttons to push except volume control. After testing a new audio service, "Attraction Description", one guest commented that the device provides something that people with visual disabilities almost never get in real life: "a full description of our surroundings." In fact, Disney's recognition for achievements in accessibility includes the da Vinci Award for Assistive Technology and the National Association of the Deaf Access Award.

"Disney has a passion for accessibility," Hale says. "The DURATEQ HP iPAQ device lets people with disabilities fully enjoy the magic of the Disney experience."

Hale and his team of Disney engineers had debuted an early, limited-feature version of this assistive device in December 2001, at the "Walt Disney: One Man's Dream" exhibit in honor of what would have been the founder's 100th birthday. The device was innovative but cumbersome.

"We'd built the original prototype on an HP platform," Hale recalls, "but after some initial testing we wanted to look at how to extend the battery life, and develop a more rugged device—that would hold up in a theme park environment. We surveyed the market for a new platform, and the HP iPAQ PDA was the clear winner. Its screen was easy to read both indoors and outdoors, it had a long battery life, and it offered the expansion capability we needed. It lacked the rugged features and some other technologies, but HP and Softeq delivered those in a customized device—with a Disney logo to boot!"

The DURATEQ is thin and lightweight. HP iPAQ mobile handheld devices come in a variety of Smartphone, GPS and PDA models for home and business use. The base platform of the DURATEQ is an HP iPAQ PDA with a 3.5-inch screen, genuine Windows® Mobile 5.0 Premium Edition operating system, and Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), Bluetooth®, and Serial IR wireless technology. This model's re-engineering into the DURATEQ is a case study in creative collaboration.

A powerful collaboration: Disney, HP, Softeq
HP and Disney have been collaborating in technology since 1938, when HP founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard provided equipment used in the first known version of surround sound, for the movie Fantasia. For the Disney project, HP brought in a partner of its own, Softeq Development, a system integrator and product developer based in Houston. Disney engineers presented Softeq a list of requirements: The assistive device had to withstand a four-foot drop to concrete and daily handling by sunscreen-smeared hands. It had to both receive and transmit infrared signals, and receive FM. It had to be lightweight, splash-proof and run at least 10 hours before the battery ran out. It had to offer amplified audio and low-vision features such as high-contrast, tactile buttons. It had to vibrate, so users would know when to put on their headphones or check the screen. Disney also wanted a five-unit docking station, so multiple units could be charged simultaneously.

"Disney had the original vision, and it defined the requirements," recalls Softeq CEO Chris Howard. "After that, it was a back-and-forth collaborative development engagement. HP provided hardware and some technical support. In terms of project management, product design, tooling, validation & quality testing, and software development, making Disney's vision a reality was Softeq's responsibility."

Softeq modified the HP iPAQ PDA internals with an audio amplifier, signal processors, vibration motor and GPS software. Softeq worked with Disney on synchronizing show content with captioning and audio using Disney's patented technology. Softeq also replaced the original casing with a durable plastic and rubber overmolding, stacking the electronics within securely so they wouldn't budge when dropped. Finally, Softeq wrote an application called ALICE (the Assistive Listening and Captioning Engine) to drive all of the assistive technology, synchronize content, and maximize battery life. Then, Voila! The DURATEQ debuted as a re-engineered, custom-featured handheld with HP iPAQ electronics.

"It could not have worked out better," says Disney's Hale. "HP brought us to Softeq, a custom integrator and product development house, and the company came through beautifully, built a great device. After the years of work we'd put into it, to have an outcome like this was more than gratifying."

The outcome for end users—confirmed through usability testing with disability groups—is full-featured accessibility and ease of use. The outcome for Disney is excellence in meeting a deeply respected customer need. "We've eliminated clutter and the need for guests to carry three or four devices," Hale says.

[hr]"The HP iPAQ PDA offered the screen size, indoor and outdoor usability, battery life and form factor that we could design our assistive device around. It was the perfect platform for making our vision of accessibility a reality."
—Greg Hale, Chief Safety Officer and Vice President, Worldwide Safety and Accessibility, WALT DISNEY Parks and Resorts
[hr]
The DURATEQ also saves Disney significant time and money. When assistive devices were separate, Disney had to deploy and support multiple platforms. Now it's all integrated, making it much easier to maintain the equipment and add new locations and features. "Now we can use the same signal for all services," Hale says. "That replaces a lot of old technology and makes it much less expensive than putting in new, separate systems. It's a much more cost-effective way to go."

The innovative technology has enabled Disney to introduce new Audio Description services for guests who are blind or with low vision. Attraction description provides Audio Description in an attraction, inserted within the natural pauses in the show, providing narrated information about key visual elements such as actions, settings, costumes, gestures, and scene changes. Disney is piloting descriptive narration, which provides Audio Description in outdoor areas using GPS. The technology could also support language translation and live interactive capabilities. Disney's Handheld Device services are expanding from WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort in Florida to DISNEYLAND Resort in California.

A wealth of emerging applications
The DURATEQ has also been deployed in Atlanta's New World of Coca-Cola and the New England Patriots new museum.

Potential industrial, retail and commercial applications are unlimited. DURATEQ fills a market niche between commercial handhelds and military-spec versions, which are bulky and expensive — anywhere from 40 percent to 300 percent costlier than the HP iPAQ PDA, Disney learned in a survey. Because the DURATEQ runs on a Microsoft® Windows Mobile platform, it comes with mobile handheld versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel and Internet Explorer. Its built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth protocols support wireless communications, while secured SD and CF card slots prevent tampering. Optional accessories include a magnetic stripe reader, bar code scanner, RFID module, multi-unit charging dock, and GPS module. All this opens the device to numerous applications in guest services, hospitality, field operations, warehouse management, and entertainment.

"Museums, movie theaters, stage shows, tours—the DURATEQ extends accessibility where it previously was impractical, such as attractions that send guests through multiple show scenes or outdoor environments," Hale says. "In addition, its durability and expansion capabilities open up non-assistive applications such as point-of-sale, warehouse management, and its GPS functionality is currently being used in forestry logging. The DURATEQ is a robust and lightweight industrial handheld PC."

Disney and HP share a passion for accessibility. Like Disney, HP is committed to improving access to information and technology for all users. Such a commitment involves more than product delivery, but an understanding of the complex and changing challenges people with disabilities and age-related limitations face every day. Thinking about Disney's journey from striving for accessible solutions to the development of a potent new multi-purpose tool, Hale adds: "We had to invent a technology to provide a service we wanted for our guests. With the superb support of Softeq and HP, we developed a device that can do well in many, many settings. We don't want to keep this to ourselves."

Contact the HP Reference2Win Program, 866-REF-3734 for more information.

To learn more, visit www.hp.com/accessibility
www.hp.com/go/ipaq
www.durateq.com
www.softeq.com


© 2009 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P.

[Durateq HP-Disney Reference2Win.pdf]
 

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