notetaker aurena: PAC Mate, a customized PDA hardware with Braille keys
running under Pocket PC 2002 with popular screen reader - JAWS for Windows -
written for Pocket PC operating system. This was a breakthrough, marking the
debut of Windows Mobile family of operating system for people who are blind
or visually impaired. Previously, the only PDA running on top of windows CE
(which powers Windows Mobile) used custom interface for interacting with a
user, thus usage of mainstream software was a big hit with Freedom
The biggest advantage of PAC Mate (PAC = Personal All-purpose Computer) was
the ability to run third-party programs written for Pocket PC environment.
This meant work was being done a FS to prepare for launch of PM, including
scripting Pocket Word and other built-in programs, as well as testing
hardware and software products to be compatible with PAC Mate's initial
release. Since then, other generations of PAC Mate (after initial BNS/TNS
running under PPC 2002) followed, including PAC Mate BX/QX (launch in 2003
under windows Mobile 2003) and PAC Mate Omni, launched in 2007 using Windows
Mobile 6.0 Classic.
Although using third-party software and hardware was a big plus for PAC Mate
series, there is one huge drawback, in my opinion: too much customization of
JAWS for Pocket PC executable for built-in drivers and hardware
configuration only, which defeats the purpose of mobile computing under
today's standard - changing devices on the move to suit a person's needs.
Although dedicated hardware modules does have its benefits, under today's
rapidly changing specifications of mobile devices, it would be hard for
Freedom Scientific (in my opinion) to market JAWS for Pocket PC on a
platform that is around three years old, even though FS markets it as
running the "latest hardware specs." To understand what I mean, here's the
hardware specs for a typical PAC Mate:
* CPU: Intel X-Scale PXA255 at 400 MHz versus other ARM CPU's running at
around 600 MHz.
* RAM: 64 MB compared to 256 MB found on today's phones.
* Flash ROM: 128 MB compared to 512 MB to 8 GB found on some PDA's and
Using these specs, it'll be hard to believe that FS's strategies would work
when it comes to marketing a customized hardware. Thu my opinion of
releasing JAWS for Windows Mobile as a software product rather than as a
There are numerous benefits to this move. First, a user can change his or
her device depending on personal needs. Second, it'll be somewhat easier for
Freedom Scientific to port JAWS for Pocket PC to mainstream hardware
platforms, given that it utilizes generic drivers for basic hardware
configurations and making sure that scripting works as expected. Third,
it'll be useful for FS's marketing strategy to point out that JAWS would be
a universal screen reader for some of the popular platforms out there -
chiefly under HTC devices. Fourth, if generic Bluetooth stack is
implemented, it'll be easier for third-party Bluetooth Braille displays to
interface with JAWS for Windows Mobile among other devices. Despite these
suggestions, there's bound to be compatibility issues, but when thinking
about this move, I strongly support that releasing JAWS for Windows Mobile
as a software product would be more beneficial and cost effective, as
evidenced by above reasoning.
At least that's what I have. If you have any comments, please let me know...