Here you will find reviews from Palm Writer users.
Reviews By Date and Reviewer
Post Date: 6/24/2018
Reviewer: Michael Arbitman
Title: Founder of Blind Technology Group or Blind TG: http://blindtg.com/
Phone: (954) 593-9558
When Morgan Dynamic Research contacted me to let me know I was going to be a beta tester for the Palm Writer I was both anxious and excited. Even though I’m blind, I am a technology nerd. I love all types of technology, even the ones that are not compatible or created for the blind. So to finally see a new piece of technology for the blind was refreshing.
First I want to discuss the mentality you need to have when picking up a new technology device. If you are an individual that has the belief that I’ve been navigating for 30 or 40+ years with my walking cane and seeing eye dog and I’m fine and I don’t need anything else, then this device is not for you. This device was not created to replace a walking cane or replace a seeing eye dog. You must first have the mentality that this device is going to allow me to do things that the other two devices cannot. If you’re OK with hearing more about the potential, then please read on. If not, there’s no need to waste your time.
I have beta testing the first version of the product and the second version of the product. I will describe my experience with the first, and then the Second.
When I first picked up to the Palm Writer, I was surprised to feel how light weight it was. This was a good sign because since I was going to be holding it for 8+ hours, I did not want to feel like I was caring around a pair of weights. The email I received with the instructions to tell me what was packaged in the box and how to set it up was very thorough and descriptive for those of us that cannot see. I had no issue finding the pieces and plugging everything together to charge the device for the first time.
After attaching the lanyard and the wrist strap I picked up the Palm Writer and turned it on. It took about 30 or 45 seconds for me to get used to the feeling of the servos twisting and spinning. Then, walking around my house, I started pointing it at various places testing the limitations of the Palm Writer. I pointed it at the floor and was scanning back-and-forth as I walked. I was pointing at the walls and trying to find the doorways, and used it on my kitchen table to find where the plate and fork was set. I repeated this process five or six times until I became completely comfortable and understanding of the nuances of the Palm Writer. Once I established these foundation feelings, I start exploring all the other aspects of my home. It was able to help me find my coffee table, my television, my remote control, dining room table and chairs. Before I knew it, I had used the Palm Writer for over eight hours and it beeped to alert me I needed to charge it.
The next day I went to the mall to try out the Palm Writer in an atmosphere that I was semi-comfortable and that was not my home. The most useful feature of this device was that I was able to scan in front of me farther than my walking cane would allow, warning me of people standing in front of me that were stopped so I didn’t hit their shoes or strollers with my walking cane. This was a comfortable change for me.
When we got home from the mall, my daughters wanted to take a ride around the block in their Frozen Power Wheels mustang. The way that I used to do this with them was place my cane on the back of the car and as they drove I had to stay two or 3 feet behind them because that was the length of my cane. If they abruptly stopped, seven times out of ten I hit the back of the car with my legs. Because of the speed of the mustang, stopping any quicker needed a lot faster reaction time then I had. However, when I use the Palm Writer, I was able to stand five or 6 feet behind them and still see where the car was using the Palmer Writer. This allowed me plenty of space to stop walking behind them, and if they turned I would just move the Palm Writer to the left or the right until I felt them and then I knew that was the direction they were going in.
In the past, when I would use my walking cane to follow my daughters while they were driving in their power wheels car around the block, I would constantly have to either hold out my hand in front of me and above me to make sure that I did not get hit in the face by low lying branches from trees and bushes. This was annoying for me because every once in a while my hands or forearms or face would get scratched. Periodically with the Palm Writer after I scanned for the car I would move in a rainbow arc out in front of me and it would identify to me approximately where the branches were and where the bushes were located so I did not bump into them. This was a relief and something I was unable to do before. This was one of the best experiences I have had because now I can enjoy taking my girls around the block again.
The biggest test for me was using the Palm Writer at Disney World. Right off the bat I found the same benefit as in the mall. I could use the Palm Writer to scan in front of me and to the side of me to find if people were stopped so I didn’t hit them while walking with my walking cane. The real benefit came from when I was standing in lines. I will use the Pirates of the Caribbean line as an example. When you went to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the line is designed to look like you’re inside of a cave. It is very low lit, and there are twists and turns. In the past, I would have to keep my hands against the wall to know the direction that the wall was turning and then use my cane in front of me to feel when I hit somebody so I know that I should stop and not continue walking. They do have a handrail, however because of the set design, it does not take you from the beginning of the line to the end of the line as one continuous piece. Like almost every ride, there are some spaces in between the bars and places where the bar just cannot be.
With the Palm Writer however, I was able to point that forward in front of me to know when the line stopped, and place my stick catty corner to the part of the wall where it met the floor, and follow that around without hitting anybody. It was the first time in over 10 years that I was able to do this. I repeated this process for the Little Mermaid ride, the Haunted Mansion ride, and almost all of the other attractions at Disney World. I understand that the same might’ve been possible if I had a guide dog, however for me, since I travel with my family but still want to be independent and not have to worry about the dogs well-being, this is a great alternative solution.
The highlight of the trip however came when we went to the Living Seas at Epcot. The Living Seas ride was transformed into finding Nemo a few years ago, and after you ride, there is an aquarium where you can go and see the fish. I was there at the dolphin fish tank and my daughter and I were looking for dolphins. I held the Palmer Writer above my head while she was looking down. To my surprise, and pure delight, the Palm Writer told me that there was something swimming above me. I told my daughter to look up and she says that it’s a dolphin. That was a truly amazing experience for me because I was able to see something first before she did and tell her about it so she didn’t miss it.
Those pros are just some of the many benefits of experience with the Palm Writer, but like everything else, there are always some cons. Here is what I found with the first generation of the product. Because of the technology of the product, it did not react well to fabric. Whether I was pointing it out my couch in my house, or clothes hanging on the rack at the mall, it did not really pick them up to well. When I was at Disney World, it started to rain and people were wearing ponchos. As I was walking around in the rain with the Palm Writer, it had a difficult time differentiating between the ponchos and empty space. These things were not a surprise since they were both explained to me before I tested the device, but it was a different experience to feel that hands-on. Also, while at Disney, The Palm Writer battery died and then I realized that it did not have a USB port to charge it without the base. These were the only things that were a bummer to me.
Now I opened up the second revision of the Palm Writer, and found that most of the cons have been resolved. The second version of the Palm Writer is more ergonomic in design so it is a lot more comfortable to hold. It also comes with a strap that fits around your hand so that you don’t have to carry the full weight of the device all day. Carrying the device was not a problem for me in the past, but after using a strap for a week, I don’t think I can go back to carrying it without feeling discomfort anymore. If you were traveling and the Palm Writer battery dies, you can charge it with any android USB cable. This is going to be a fantastic benefit when I’m traveling it to Disney or other places where the Palm Writer dies. The response time of the device has increased almost 7 fold. When I went to my eye doctor, the waiting room has chairs that are grouped in five, with one metal bar connecting all five together as one big piece. They do have separate armrests though. With the first Palm Writer, it would only pick up that there were seats there so I thought the Palm Writer was reading it correctly. I was wrong. The second Palm Writer actually differentiated between the chairs and the armrests so that I could count the number of chairs that were connected in each group. This will be extremely useful when I visit stadiums, theaters, or concert halls so I can count the number of seats as I pass them to sit in my designated seat. I did not even think this was something I could ever do, but now I can.
With the first version of the Palm Writer, when I scanned it outside of the sliding glass door in my home, I got no response unless someone was standing directly on the other side. With this new version however, when I scan outside my sliding glass door, it’s able to recognize my patio furniture which is roughly 5 feet away from the glass. Since before I did not know I could do this, I did not consider it a con. Again however, I was wrong but the second version works so much better.
My daughter‘s ballet recital was inside of an ample theater. I was able to use the Palm Writer to first find my row, then as I walked I held it out to the seats and it helped me count the seats without me having to touch each and every chair. Since I forgot my hand sanitizer, that became extraordinarily helpful for me.
After the recital, my family and I walked to pick up my daughter at the pick up location. Since it was raining, all of the performers war ponchos to protect their costumes from the water. With the first version of the Palm Writer, that made the Palm Writer not pick up the different people. This problem was rectified or solved with the second version. I was able to scan through all the performers, and it told me exactly where they were. This was in a light drizzle and not a torrential downpour, because the Palm Writer is splash resistant but I was told that it should not be submerged to make sure that water did not get into the sensor area.
This version is more than just a slight upgrade, I consider this a completely new build rather than an upgrade in my opinion. The real test for me is when we go to Disney in July and I get to use it at all four parks and a hotel that I’ve never stayed in before.
End of Review