I thought that this might be interresting to you folks.
We have had Beth Minot at Com puter Science, etc.
Peop0le from the Department of Defense (NSA) tell me they have
worked with prototypes, and while there are problems, the system
does work. I am not sure how much of the audio ques stuff they are
Here is an article concerning the Mercator Project at Georgia Tech.
I spoke with Elizabeth earlier. I think she has graduated by now. She
mentioned that the Pentagon would implement her work in the Defense
Department, and that private interests would further the work for Xwindows.
No plans yet exist for implementation to MS products.
Scientist designs sound cues
,to aid bhnd computer users
Elizabeth Mynatt knows Rthat maneuvering on the ,information highway can be
,frustrating. But for the visually -'impaired, the road is littered -with even
"The graphics that make using a computer easier for most people are useless
to ,someone who is blind," said Mynatt, 28, a doctoral ,candidate at Georgia
Over the past five years, she :has headed a team of five ,researchers to
create a software system that substitutes sound cues for graphic icons - the
tiny, onscreen pictures that guide a user through the maze of applications.
They developed a software system called Mercator for UNIX-based computers,
which 'are widely used in colleges and
.government agencies. With
-Mercator the cues are heard, ,not seen. For example, the ,sound of a
tells a computer user when to start typing.
The work paid off last
month when the Department of Defense agreed to fund further
In recent in v@rtyn
'has worked on t g
Mercator to work with
'Macintosh computers and IBM.compatibles running Windows. -She hopes to see the
system marketed under the moniker Sonic X as early as August, when she expects
to earn her doctorate.
In addition to job hunting and maintaining her own home page on the World
Wide Web, Nlynatt is also focused on how to improve portable computers.
"One day, I'd like to be able :to bring my computer to the -park," she
And leave her dogs, Bailey ,And Ginger, at bome?
"No way," she says. "I'
talking about when it's @ out and I have to work. I don't love computers that
Q: Why did You choose this particular line of research?
A: I'm not just interested in the way computers work. I also want to
understand the human equation, the way people interact with computers. I think
my work with auditory interfaces puts me on the fringe of what's being created
Q: What -will the computer of the future be like?
A: We won't think of it as the computer of the future, and it will be more
than one. They'll be everywhere: in the television, in the walls, in the
electronic books we carry.
Q: In the walls? That sounds scary. Are computers too powerful?
A: No. I don't think they're powerful enough. I@ think the way people
intera It with c
computers right now is very rudimentary. I'm not intimidated by the science
fiction notion that computers will take over the world or replace human beings,
Computers are not creative or innovative. They do what people tell them'lto do.
Q: Ho w many computers would you say contain
information abo4t you?
A: It depend@ how you count. What's amazing is the way computers are
linked. So you may not have information about me, but you could get it ... I'd
say the number's impossible to estimate.
Q: Where will computers go where they aren't already?
A: Anywhere people are.
-- Freedom, like sanity, is best questioned to be sure one still has it.
David Andrews, director International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind National Federation of the Blind
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