Friday Finds: WWDC Highlights, AI in Tech, & Virtual Reality for Vision Impairment

Welcome back to another exciting episode of Friday Finds! In this episode, Marty and Linn dig into the highlights from Apple’s WWDC, ponder over the conspicuous absence of AI in the presentation, and analyze Apple’s preference for the term “machine learning” instead.
They also discuss ‘EmpathEyes,’ an innovative VR simulator that helps parents and caregivers understand a child’s exact visual impairment, and how this could change the way we perceive and react to visual impairment.
Finally, they explore the recent controversy over Reddit charging for API access and its impact on accessibility, including an exemption for accessibility apps and an upcoming user protest.
Join Marty and Linn as they unravel the intricacies of these fascinating developments. Stay tuned, leave your comments, and don’t forget to join us next week for another Friday Finds!
Reach us for any questions or feedback at
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Transcript

Marty:
[0:05] Hey all, Marty here, and welcome back to another Friday Fines with Lynne.
Hey Lynne, how’s it going?

Linn:
[0:10] Hey guys, this has been quite a busy week, huh?

Marty:
[0:13] Yep, definitely. So quick announcement here at the top, I just want to let everyone know that Michael and I were on IACAS doing WWDC Recap, and that’s going to drop in the unmute feed on Saturday, so look for that.
Lynn, what’s our first topic?

Linn:
[0:32] Okay, so we will start out with WWDC and I’m not going to spend a ton of time on it because I know that we’ve been pretty saturated with it all week.
But the one thing I did want to touch on, of course, there were a lot of things, the headset, $3,500 headset that I won’t be able to afford anytime soon.
But yeah, and it has voiceover built into it. So it’s going to have some accessibility features.
And I guess I listened to the entire presentation.

[1:16] And of course, I’m sitting there and I’m thinking about it. And I’m like, okay, where is AI?
I have not heard any discussion of AI.
So I was very surprised by that.
But I found an article in The Verge that was titled For Better or Worse, Apple is Avoiding the AI Hype Train.
And it was written by James This is Vincent from June 6.
And basically, what they discussed in that article is that Apple is really taking a more cautious approach to the whole AI thing.
Of course, there was AI throughout the whole presentation, but they didn’t call it AI.
They preferred to use the term machine learning.

[2:11] And I think that some experts are saying that actually machine learning is a better way to describe AI.
Artificial intelligence has sort of like a science fictional connotation to it.
And AI is Apple is really taking more of a cautious, conservative approach in talking about it. it. It doesn’t mean they don’t have it. It just means, you know, that they’re going to kind of describe it in a different way.
And that’s probably not a bad thing, because as many of us know, AI has really gotten some bad press.
A lot of people, when they hear about AI, they hear about about the end of humanity at the worst, and AI taking jobs and misinformation and all sorts of malfeasance, whatever.
So yeah, AI is starting to have some negative, you know, public press.

[3:21] And I think that that’s gonna be, that may have been something that Apple was thinking about when they actually did not say the word.
Because as we know, if you listen to the Google presentation and the Microsoft presentations, if we had a dime for every time they use the word AI, we probably could get a nice pizza for everybody in the audience.

Marty:
[3:44] Yeah. So do you think that they should explain what they mean by changing the verbiage to something different, or you think they should just go with it just let people figure it out.

Linn:
[3:58] I think that by using the term machine learning, they are accentuating the positives about AI.
So in that respect, I think it’s a smart move on their part.

Marty:
[4:12] And not to say anything, just to let it ride and just let it be a different…

Linn:
[4:18] Just have it be a different, right. Because again, AI just has such a negative publicity right now.
And it’s a shame, because it shouldn’t. There’s so much good about AI, and we need to focus on the good.
And in sort of changing the name, maybe like a euphemistic sort of expression, Apple is really trying to accentuate the positives.
It is AI after all, but they’re changing the name of it. So I don’t know, you know, the jury is still out on whether this is a good idea or not.

Marty:
[4:57] We’ll see moving forward. Right. I mean, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Linn:
[5:00] It may actually be a very smart move on Apple’s part, you know.
So this this article I found, it is really kind of a very, very interesting technology.

[5:17] And basically, you know, I was born totally blind.
And so when you say totally blind, you sort of understand what that means.
There’s not much room for misinterpretation, right? You can’t see at all.
That’s it. Yeah. But most folks that are considered blind actually are not totally blind.
And one of the things that I have noticed, I have blind and visually impaired friends.
But in discussing this with a lot of my visually impaired or partially sighted friends, they very often face sort of the challenge of, you know, trying to explain to people why they can see some things, but they can’t see other things.
And I can imagine that this would be especially difficult for kids who really don’t have the ability to communicate this type of information.
Plus, their parents may not even understand the child’s eye condition well enough to, you know, advocate well for the needs of the child. So, there was an article in…

[6:43] Blind cool tech from june fifth and it was posted to the tech vi list that was run by my friend david goldfield which is a great list and the product is called empathize and i’m going to spell it.
E-M-P-A-T-H-E-Y-E-S. And basically what it is, it’s a VR simulator.
And what it tries to do is, it tries to represent an individual’s exact visual impairment.
So when And you put, you know, it’s a sort of like a, I’m trying to think AI or VR, sort of like a headset, I guess you could say.
And you put it on and the technology will actually allow you as the parent, you can put in the child’s eye condition, what it is, And it will show you what your child is seeing in different places, like on a bus, on the playground, in the classroom.

[8:01] And there are like 50 eye conditions that are in this software.
And it was, basically it was developed by a mom who has twins who are blind, in Ireland.
And she did this because she was trying to…

[8:27] Help not only herself but other people get a good idea of what their child is able to see and not able to see and it also has different views and different ways of looking different light conditions different strengths to sort of show the parents in real time what their own children are seeing.
And I just think that is an amazing thing, because this is really one of the challenges.
If you have difficulty seeing, you can see. And some people say, well, you can see or you can’t see. But that’s really not true.
I mean, there are different levels of visual impairment.
And with this virtual reality simulator, it’s sort of like a flight simulator, right?
You get in there, and it allows you to actually experience what your child experiences from a visual perspective.

Marty:
[9:32] I think this is really cool. I mean, if you are a parent and you’re trying to have some sort of idea of what your child is going through, and you can actually sit in a simulator and at least experience, oh, this is what their vision is like, or, oh, this is what they’re going through.
I mean, that goes a long way to let the parent understand exactly how and what their kids are dealing with.
I mean, this is, you know, taking something like virtual reality, which is used mostly for gaming and, you know, stuff like that, and putting it into a real world problem, you know, and letting you being able to experience.
So I think that’s really, really cool, you know?

Linn:
[10:22] 360 degree immersion, so that, yeah, so it’s pretty awesome.
And it has, you know, you select the eye condition that your child has.
And I imagine that this would even be able to help not just children and parents, but other people as well.
So it’s in it’s.
There, the person that developed this does have a lot of.
Academic resources behind her and is trying to raise money to.
Make this more widely available and it’s going to be shown at, it seems like it’s like an optometric conference soon, and it’s going to be tested with a lot of other people, and then they plan to offer it all over the world.
This is pretty cool. That is empathize, right? E-M-P-A-T-H-E-Y-E-S. Yeah.

Marty:
[11:29] I’d love to see this thing move forward, make some progression, and really get into more of the mainstream if that’s possible, but it sounds really awesome. So, cool. Yeah.

Linn:
[11:41] It’s a headset, I guess.

Marty:
[11:43] Awesome.

Linn:
[11:43] All right. This is the week of headsets, huh?

Marty:
[11:46] Yeah, definitely.

Linn:
[11:47] Okay. My last story for today relates to something we talked about a while back.
I don’t think it was on this program, but we were talking about the social media site, Reddit.
And Reddit has not made its users happy because they have started to charge for their API.
And I’m trying to remember, Marty, you were saying one of the developers.

Marty:
[12:18] Yeah, there’s a really famous Reddit app that people use on iPhone, which is called Apollo.
And that’s been a really famous app for Reddit for quite a long time.
And I believe what they said was they were going to charge them like $20 million a year or something ridiculous like that.

Linn:
[12:40] Yeah, something ridiculous. Yeah. Yeah.

Marty:
[12:42] Just to be able to keep their app going?

Linn:
[12:47] So what they have done is they have now made an exception for accessibility clients.
And so lately, you know, like many blind folks are mods on Reddit.
And it’s really difficult because there are accessibility challenges with the current Reddit clients, the official ones that are out there. and, you know, people are saying, wait a minute, how are we going to be able to access this if we are stuck with one client or one or two clients that are not, that have accessibility issues?
So, they, Reddit has addressed this, and it’s, it’s non-commercial and And apps that address accessibility needs, they won’t have to pay to access Reddit state data.
So that’s good. And…

Marty:
[13:57] So does that mean that, let’s say Apollo implements voiceover into their app so that blind people are able to use our app with voiceover?
Does that mean they won’t have to pay the fee or is there some other thing that has to happen or something more that has to happen?

Linn:
[14:15] Yeah, so basically, Reddit says that they’ve connected with select developers of non-commercial apps that address accessibility needs and offered them exemptions from the large-scale pricing that they’re doing.
And there’s a, supposedly there’s going to be a huge protest.
I remember thinking, you know, is this just going to tick off blind people?
But it turns out that no, other other Reddit users, which I thought would be the case, are not happy campers.
Because of this, they’re going to lose access to the apps that they like.
And this is sort of a Twitter-esque kind of move, right? Sort of…

Marty:
[15:11] I don’t understand why numbers have to be so outrageous. Even if they’re going to charge a fee to use their APIs, I don’t understand why the price is so outrageous.
It seems just way out of line for developers to be able to use their APIs.
I’m not sure what’s behind that, why they’re doing that, but it would be interesting to know.
So clearly we’re just hearing now, you know, that Apollo is pulling the plug on their app, I guess, so.

Linn:
[15:39] Right. So there are a few blindness-specific apps.
One was called Luna, I think, Luna. The other one is called Reddit for Blind.
Um and so they apparently will still function but gosh wouldn’t it be nice if they would just go ahead and make their app accessible like really that would be in my opinion the best way to one of the well not the best way but you know then you wouldn’t have to have these special things right you could just say well yeah you’re talking about the actual reddit app is that what you’re talking Right.

Marty:
[16:25] And it’s not accessible currently.

Linn:
[16:28] I think it’s, it may be accessible, but I think it has accessibility challenges from what we talked about on, I think it was IACAST.
Right. We had, we had discussed this.
So apparently the, there’s a Reddit, a subreddit for, that’s for blind folks And they’re going to join in with other subreddit in shutting down on June 12th to June 14th in protest.
So the blind subreddit says that they are going to participate in that protest.
So we’ll see what happens. That’s, you know, it’s really a shame. Definitely.

Marty:
[17:17] It’s really interesting, you know, all of this stuff that’s happening.
All right, Lynne, thanks so much for another Friday Finds.
And if you have any questions, comments, you can reach us at feedback at unmute.show.
And everybody have a great one and we’ll see you next time.

Linn:
[17:35] Thanks a lot, guys.

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