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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

The id mate Talking Bar Code Scanner

The id mate Talking Galaxy Bar Code Scanner


For a number of years, En-Vision America has manufactured a talking bar code scanner. They produced five previous talking bar code scanners. Now, however, they have produced their sixth and newest scanner called the id mate Galaxy. I had an opportunity to see it in action at one of the summer conventions and can vouch for several of its advertised features. This post is not a review, however; instead, it is an informational piece intended to inform everyone of the existence and availability of this device.


What is the id mate Galaxy?


According to the page that describes the unit which can be found at this link:

i.d. mate Galaxy is a portable “all-in-one” talking bar code scanner that aids visually or print impaired individuals with the identification of items via the product’s bar code or UPC. Using text-to-speech and digital voice recording technologies, it allows users to access an on-board database of product descriptions, along with a tailored set of recorded voice messages. With i.d. mate Galaxy, the user can quickly add additional voice recorded information to existing products or to items not found in the database. Additional bar code labels are available to label any product or item that does not already have a bar code. Adhesive, tag, and clothing labels can be placed on nearly anything. Simply scan the bar code and add a voice recording.


New Features of the id mate Galaxy


The id Mate Galaxy possesses several features that distinguish it from older id mate products.


Improved Speech


The id mate Galaxy works by reading the bar code information to the user. Older id mate products used a synthesized voice that sounded quite robotic. Now, however, the Galaxy uses Tom, one of the many voices from Nuance. Thus, the voice quality and readability is significantly improved.


Wi-Fi and Bluetooth


The Galaxy can connect to Bluetooth headsets so you can listen in privacy and at a volume that suits you. It also has a Wi-Fi setting that lets you connect to a Wi-Fi network. This setting is especially useful; if you scan an item not in the database, the Galaxy can immediately go online to attempt to locate it in another database. If you are a person who is blind and someone else who is sighted can give you the information about a particular item not currently found in the database, you can use the feature that lets you record your own description which is saved for future use. This feature, which has existed in all of the id mate products, is helpful, but looking online for the product information may greatly increase the independence of someone who is blind that is using the Galaxy. The other advantage of having the ability to use the unit online is that it makes software and database updating much easier. You can download updated software and databases directly to the unit--no more downloading to the computer, putting the update on a card and reinserting the card back into the unit.


Ergonomic Design


The unit, itself, is much lighter and smaller than previous id mate units and still possesses a large scanning window for scanning products. Using the included neck strap, you can keep the Galaxy with you and scan products quite easily and quickly. Because it is light—only 11 ounces, you may barely notice that you are carrying a device on a neckstrap.


New Database


As one would expect, the product database has grown significantly as have the number of products with additional directions for preparation, etc. For example, if you scan a CD, you may hear the list of tracks; if you scan a frozen pizza, you may hear its cooking directions and nutritional information. Scrolling through the included information remains simple to do; press the “next” or “previous” buttons to listen to the text. Press these buttons more quickly to skip sections of text. A sound is heard after a portion of text is read that tells you that there is more information forthcoming. When you reach the last bit of information and you hit the next button, you hear the first set of text again.


Other Improvements


The Galaxy now lets you use a Micro SD Card of up to 8GB of memory whereas before you were restricted to 2GB of memory with some of the previous units. In addition, the Galaxy can store and play MP3 files including music. It also contains a new feature called inventory control; when you enter this mode, the unit stores items you scan. It does not keep track of how many you have—you must do this, but it will let you know if you already scanned a certain item. This mode is ideal for vendors and others trying to keep track of how many of a certain item one has.


For more information, visit this page where you can subscribe to the dedicated Yahoo users group, download the user’s guide in PDF, Word, and audio, and read more details about the features of this product.


Certainly there are other options for barcode scanning. Some apps do this at a much lower cost. However, you may not always have a phone available, and you may have more difficulty scanning the bar code with the app due to the necessarily smaller scanning window. The app may or may not present you with all the directions that you will get from the Galaxy. You will have to determine which bar code identification system works best for you. Even if you use an app at times, you may find the id mate Galaxy to be a very useful product.


Contacting En-Vision America


If you wish to contact the manufacturer of the id mate Galaxy, En-Vision America or purchase the Galaxy, you may call 309-452-3088 or call their toll free number, 800-890-1180. You can visit the company website at Visit them on Facebook, or go to the id mate Facebook page. You also can follow them on Twitter. They also offer an email list where you can stay updated on all their products and news. We encourage your comments; have you tried the id mate Galaxy? Give us your impressions of the device by leaving a comment.

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