Ocean Blue Talking TV Software Benefits Thousands In Australia As Part Of Government Help-Box Scheme

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Ocean Blue logo

BRISTOL — Ocean Blue Software, a world class innovator of digital TV software has partnered with Hills Antenna & TV System, supplier of set-top boxes, to release the first of its kind ‘Talking’ set-top box in Australia.

The Talking Set Top Box, Hills HD94003G, was developed with the assistance of the Australian Government and Vision Australia. As part of the Digital Switchover scheme the Australian government have adopted the text-to-speech software and is investing millions to provide visually impaired users with digital Talking set-top boxes that contain Ocean Blue’s award winning, advanced Talking TV software.

It is designed to enable blind and partially sighted people to navigate through the various digital channels, using a text to speech menu and EPG. The Hills HD94003G is a high definition set top box using Ocean Blue’s award winning Text to Speech software. This assistive technology was first developed between Ocean Blue Software and the Royal National Institute of Blind (RNIB) in the UK. The software provides human speech to voice the program guides and menu items to the user. It is designed to give greater visual clarity in operation, to be more intuitive and easy to use, creating a better user experience than normally associated with Digital Receivers.

Advanced Features & Functions

The set top box includes an advanced remote control designed for ease of use, with large high contrast buttons. The remote control has a training button which allows an audible description of all of the remote control buttons. It also provides a definitive visual and audio feedback when the buttons are pressed. This audio beep can also be turned off if preferred.

The set top box includes Audio Description, that when broadcast, provides an audio narration of the visual scene. The Set top box also has the ability for Audio Description to be heard (when broadcast) from the headphone jack and/or the set top box output.

A unique feature included with the set top box (that may be required in the future) is the ability to decode MHEG-5 free to air unencrypted signals.

Ocean Blue supplied the complete middleware software solutions including DVB HD, USB PVR, MHEG HD and Talk TV software.

The Set top Box was trialled by a number of people as part of the Australian Government Household Assistance Scheme to assess the opportunities in providing improved accessibility to Digital TV for people who are vision impaired.

“The Hills HD94003G ‘talking’ Set Top Box includes a number of enhancements made to the Beta model that came about from input from the Government’s Digital Switchover Taskforce, Vision Australia and their various work groups,” said Steve Mannion, General Manager of Sales and Marketing for Hills Antenna & TV Systems.

“It is truly a satisfying experience to launch this product knowing that it will offer so much enjoyment to a number of vision impaired people” Steve said.

“The digital switchover has given us more than 50 TV channels, plus ‘red button’ options, making navigation very difficult for many people,” said Ken Helps, founder and CEO of Ocean Blue Software. “This technology is a huge step forward in making digital TV accessible to all sectors of the community, including the elderly, who can struggle with the confusing and busy interfaces of many Freeview boxes and will benefit from a simplified experience.”

The Talking TV Market

It is estimated 10-15% of the world’s population could have sight loss, visual impairment, or be effected by dyslexia or similar reading disabilities and would benefit from this assisted living technology. Every 5 seconds one person in the world goes blind. The prevalence of sight loss increases with age, and the world’s population is ageing.

The Set Top Box is available from any of the eight Hills Antenna & TV Systems branches and will soon be available from the Vision Australia website and their branches.