overTHERE

Category: 

Description of App: 

overTHERE is an app for outdoor use in finding out exactly where businesses and other things are located . Simply hold your phone parallel to the ground and point the top of the phone in any direction to hear the nearest thing in that direction. We call these announcements “signs” as if they were audible signs in the environment. Pointing at the signs is a little like tuning an old radio, with each sign being clear when you point straight at it, and getting staticky as you point away from it. This helps indicate exactly where the app thinks the signs are. Location accuracy is indicated by an intermittent buzzing noise that gets louder with increasing position uncertainty. Loud and frequent buzzing indicates that the app’s information may be unreliable and should not be taken too seriously.

Holding the phone vertically turns off announcements and lets you interact with the clockwise list of signs around you. Selecting any of the items from the list displays More Info.

In this More Info view, when the phone is vertical, you can use VoiceOver to review details such as address, phone number, and web site. You can select these details to open the maps app, call the business, or display the web site. Holding the phone parallel to the ground in the More Info view silences all signs except for the selected one. This lets you focus in on a specific sign even in a crowded environment. To return to the main screen and turn the other signs back on, simply hold the phone vertically and select the Back button in the top-left corner of the More Info screen.

It is also possible to create your own custom signs using the Add Sign button at the top-left corner of the main overTHERE screen. Simply stand in the location where you want the sign to be located, press the Add Sign button, and enter the text you want to appear on the sign. Pressing the Save Sign button adds your sign to the environment and returns you to the main screen. Be sure you have good location accuracy when you do this, or your sign may not be exactly where you want it. Note that Custom Signs are device specific, and are not yet sharable.

The Help and Settings button offers documentation on how to use the app, the ability to leave feedback for the developers as a text e-mail or by attaching a voice recording, and several user settings.
Settings include:

  • The ability to toggle on and off automatic announcements of how many signs are "too close to call." When signs are too close to your location, the app is unable to provide directional information. When enabled, this feature provides feedback about unannounced signs.
  • Max Distance -- In crowded urban environments it is generally best to limit the maximum distance of the signs that are announced by overTHERE. The default max distance of 500 ft is good for most cities and towns. In more sparse suburban environments it can be beneficial to increase the max distance in order to find signs further away. This setting allows you to adjust this parameter when desired.
  • Distance Units in feet or meters -- Each sign automatically speaks its name, the address if available, and the estimated distance to the sign. This setting allows the selection of imperial or metric distance units.
  • Speech Rate -- It is possible to adjust the TTS speaking rate for the sign announcements.
  • Speech Pitch -- It is possible to adjust the TTS voice pitch for the sign announcements.

overTHERE grew out of Smith-Kettlewell's Virtual Talking Signs project. The app uses an interface based on Talking Signs – a system of infrared transmitters and receivers that Smith-Kettlewell originally developed to make signage accessible for blind pedestrians. The original Talking Signs system allowed the location of a transmitter to be determined by moving the receiver back and forth across the beam of a transmitter until the strongest signal is heard. overTHERE uses a similar interface, offering many of the advantages of Talking Signs, but now the transmitters are Google map pins and the receiver is your iPhone.

We offer overTHERE as a free, powerful demonstration of this compelling virtual Talking Signs interface for use in providing accessible environmental information. overTHERE does not attempt to compete with the scope and power of other accessible GPS apps with their rich feature sets and route navigation. Rather, overTHERE is a simple app that performs a SINGLE job -- telling the user quickly and intuitively what is "over there."

overTHERE is intended for outdoor use only. It is designed to convey information about the locations of things around you. It uses Google Places, GPS, and other sensors in your phone to determine where you are and where you are pointing. It only tells you about things that Google knows about in your immediate neighborhood, and not all nearby signs will be visible from any given location. Sometimes when locations are too close to your position, the app does not report them because it is impossible to determine their direction. There may also be signs nearby that are being partially or completely blocked by other signs that are closer to you. Like any app, the information provided by overTHERE may be incomplete, inaccurate, or incorrect. Please take its information with a grain of salt. As with many apps that use location services, results may be poor in very dense urban environments with extremely tall buildings.

Keep in touch with the latest news about overTHERE by following us on Twitter:

You can get in touch by e-mail at overthere@ski.org

Apple Watch Support: 

No

Version: 

1.1

Free or Paid: 

Free

Device(s) App Was Tested On: 

iPhone

iOS Version: 

10

Accessibility Comments: 

This app was designed to be compatible with VoiceOver, so standard interaction is excellent. The app disables VoiceOver commands and screen interaction when the phone is held horizontally. This is so stray VoiceOver utterances do not interfere with the spoken messages of the signs. Users who forget this may have difficulty navigating the interface, but holding the phone vertically re-enables all VoiceOver functions.

VoiceOver Performance: 

VoiceOver reads all page elements.

Button Labeling: 

Most buttons are clearly labeled.

Usability: 

The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.

Developer's Twitter Username: 

@overTHERE4iOS