Technology shapes us and betters us, but sometimes it can also belittle our best intentions. The Talking-Points project is a new idea that hopes to use embedded Bluetooth tags placed strategically throughout a city to communicate with the blind to guide and provide geographic landmarks and local business information.
Here’s the blup from the Talking-Points website:
Talking Points is a GROCS
funded collaborative project whose aim is develop a prototype urban
orientation and contextual information system. By using a mobile
computer to read Bluetooth tags positioned around a city, such as Ann
Arbor, user generated location information is presented to the user via
either an audio or visual modular interface. Information about each
location on which the tag placed is stored in an online database. This
information is retrieved by the cellular data connected mobile device
when the user comes within close proximity to a “Talking Point.” The
information for each Talking Point is maintained by the Talking Points
community; anyone can add, modify, or delete information for each
The idea of a “Bluetooth City Guide for the Blind” is worthwhile, but there are concerns that the “Talking-Points” will be packed with advertising instead of the purity of information.
Will the Bluetooth network be secure? Or will anyone be allowed to create their own “Talking-Points” site? Will there be a quality mandate for the information broadcast via Bluetooth or will anything and everything be permitted?
Will there be deep integration with local municipalities to include “Talking-Points” for city services like bus schedules, traffic lights and other daily drudgeries like guiding one through the courthouse maze or even the county lockup?
There also needs to be a way for the individual user to filter the Bluetooth “Talking-Points” for intention, privacy, flavor or securely signed authenticity.
Too much information can be overwhelming, and allowing the listener to pick and choose the guides they seek is the paramount principle that “Talking-Points” must honor, admire and promise.