Fermata explores the potential of a purely auditory calendar application for the visually impaired.
Through user research and testing with members of the blind community in Manhattan, Spencer Kiser, Michael Jefferson and David Yates have designed a series of surround sound representations of common calendar information that lets users score the composition of their daily lives.
The prototype can run on mobile devices. Users navigate their calendars with a combination of simple voice commands, gestures and the universal keypad (up, down, left and right arrows plus an enter key). Calendar information is represented through a spatialized soundscape that uses a variety of audio icons (sounds that represent kinds of calendar items), human speech that is a navigable 3D model of a user’s calendar. Users are able to navigate to different “views” of their calendar from a month to a week to a day to an individual calendar item.
Listening to the demo makes it clearer: to her left a blind person could hear her appointments on Monday and an evening training session in the middle on Wednesday but she did not hear anything on her far right signaling that her weekend is free. Then through a combination of voice and keypad arrow clicks, books a Lincoln Center concert and dinner with her friend Amy. When she completes the entry, the event is played back in its iconic sound of applause and a clinking glass. The next time she plays back the week she will hear those off to her right in the spatial placement reserved for Saturday.