But years ago he got the free (from the US government) digital talking book player. This device is an excellent engineering and user interface solution for delivering audio material to blind users. The buttons are all large and report their functions by audio. There are all sorts of built in modes, including an extensive set of self-tests and diagnostics. Around the US, there is a service infrastructure so if there is any problem with the devices, the user just drops them off at a local library and takes a replacement.
These devices can play prerecorded DRMed audio books or MP3s delivered on USB cartridges or thumb drives. The Library of Congress maintains a large collection of downloadable books called BARD.
I was excited to see the new digital book player when it came out. Now that she has essentially lost her vision completely and also suffers from hearing loss she's found the new player to be easier to use and have better audio clarity. The fact that you can also download the books through the BARD service was great too since I could sit with her and read her descriptions of the books rather than just depending on the random selection that the NLS sends you.
You should also check with his local government to see what services are available for the blind and visually impaired. Even with no vision, one can live a happy life and still be an active member of society. All it takes is some help learning how to navigate the world.
Regarding the voice controls on either Android or iOS I can only imagine how well that would work for my grandparents, speaking a German dialect, given that even my (way less dialect) German is a hassle with voice input on either those systems.
And I solved it by buying them CD - Boombox and modifying the buttons.
That way they can switch CD's themselves and they can also buy them.
But your project is awesome with the remote uploading.
Burning all those CD's is soooo timeconsuming, but it's worth it - my grandpa has a lot of fun with those books!
One issue is that almost all Dutch audio books are abbreviated versions and even of those there are very few available. My grandfather is picky and my grandmother read nearly everything available at the library. The Internet has a bit more than the local library, but still not a lot. I myself just listen to audio books in English, but that's not an option for them.
It is a win-win situation.
Most projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo don't even have a fully functioning product, whereas, you already have your product and your 1st customer, so why don't you take this product to the next level, and sell it to the wider audience of blind people?
You will have a tremendous impact on society doing good, and make a decent side-income at the same time.
We have one with just four buttons (play/pause, stop, forward/next-track, rewind/prev-track) plus a volume knob. You can tell which button is which pretty easily based on their position.
It would be fairly easy to switch CDs and control the boombox without the use of sight.
I guess you could argue that by digitizing the CDs, it saves the person from having to change them out themselves ... but it also limits selection. (For instance, my local library has a wide assortment of CDs, but it would be a hassle if I had to rip each of them before I could listen to them.)
By the way, anybody who's interested in building stuff that's accessible to the blind, you might be interested in the work of T.V. Raman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._V._Raman), a Google engineer who himself is blind.
Check out this NYTimes article from a few years ago that tells a bit about his amazing story:
EDIT: I'm also curious about which products you looked at and why you rejected them. For example, did you look at any dedicated talking book players, such as the Victor Reader Stream or the BookSense?
It doesn't actually require a lot more maintenance, except putting the titles on the "books". Other than that, we keep reusing the same cards.
Listening to the music from their youth is shown anecdotally to have a HUGE impact on people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. But often iPods are too much for these people to manage, maybe a simpler device (such as yours) could be used in this space?
> I spoke to my grandmother today because it's here birthday,
...running Debian Wheezy
Have you seen the Kibano DigiPlayer devices?