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First mainstream Handheld PC for the Blind

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January 20, 2004

HP and VisuAide have shown the Maestro, the first mainstream handheld PC for the blind and visually impaired. Built on the HP iPAQ Pocket PC h4150 platform, Maestro is the most affordable and compact personal digital assistant yet available to the visually impaired.

Maestro features text-to-speech technology and a tactile keyboard membrane over its touch screen so the visually impaired can use essential information-access and communication applications without using a stylus.

Scheduled to begin shipping in September, Maestro takes advantage of wireless communication networks, such as Bluetooth wireless technology, and can be operated with or without an external keyboard (Braille or standard). Also, the device readily integrates other VisuAide or third-party applications offering users the latest innovations in handheld PCs.

"Our objective was to have a low-cost, highly portable mobile-computing solution available to a larger number of blind and visually impaired individuals," said Gilles Pepin, president of VisuAide. "HP has demonstrated leadership in making technology accessible, and has provided strong support to VisuAide as we create cutting-edge assistive technology for the visually impaired using the HP iPAQ Pocket PC."

VisuAide is the leading innovator in high-tech solutions for the blind and visually impaired. The company employs 80 people in Canada and operates one of the largest R&D; departments in the field. VisuAide is the world leader in digital audio book solutions for the print disabled. It develops and manufactures the Victor Reader line of hardware and software audio players. The company also manufactures Trekker, a GPS-based orientation and mobility product for the visually impaired. VisuAide is the largest distributor of computer aids for the visually disabled in Canada.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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