RiVO (Remote Interface to VoiceOver)

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Review Category: 

Review: 

What's a RiVO?

The RiVO (remote interface to Voiceover) is made by Mobience, a company in South Korea, but they ship world wide. The RiVO is a small device, about as wide and deep as a credit card and roughly 1/3 inches thick. It has a total of twenty buttons, and is meant to be a remote control of sorts to VoiceOver users and a keyboard/media controller for everyone, sighted users included. You can flick, change the rotor, scroll pages, read, type, select and edit text, and more, all without once touching your iOS device. You can even control media playback and, for iPhones, phone calls. (No, you cannot use the RiVO to press numbers while in a call.) For an audio demonstration, listen to David Woodbridge's Rivo podcast

Who's It For?

Mobience is marketing this device to any iOS device owner who uses VoiceOver, and anyone who wants a truly compact keyboard and phone/media playback remote. Personally, I see it as more of a help to those with motor difficulties that make it difficult or impossible for them to easily issue touch screen gestures. However, Mobience says the RiVO can help anyone, and is a good way to increase productivity and confidence when using iOS with VoiceOver. It also nearly eliminates the need for touching your iOS device, so you can keep that tucked away and use a RiVO to issue commands - a company representative said he uses his as he drives, to control his music and issue other commands. Finally, it may prove helpful to those who, for whatever reason, have trouble remembering all the gestures needed to make full use of VoiceOver. It is complex enough in its own right, however, that this may not prove to be the case for everyone (see below).

Physical Description

As mentioned, the RiVO has the dimensions of a credit card, but is about 1/3 inches thick. The bottom face is slightly smaller than the top face, and all four sides slope in a bit to accommodate this design. In operating mode, it is laid out like this:

  • Top face: there are twenty buttons, packed in very tightly. Each button is big enough, but there is no space between them. Twelve are laid out in the stander telephone keypad configuration, collectively called the B keys. On the left is a column of four buttons, called the L keys, and on the right is a second column of four buttons, called the R keys. Thin, hard-to-feel raised lines separate the L and R keys from the B keys. Along the top edge are the power and pairing LED indicators, just right of center.
  • Front: the front edge, facing you when the RiVO is in operating position, contains the mini USB charging port and no other controls. Oddly, the narrow end of the USB cable faces up when inserted, instead of facing down as one might expect.
  • Right face: nothing.
  • Back face: nothing.
  • Left face: this holds the power button, a thin rectangle used to turn the RiVO on or off. It is a press-and-hold button, not a slide or rocker switch or even something that is recessed when activated.
  • Bottom face: in the same position on this face as the top left key is on the top face, you will find the pairing button. Pressing this slightly recessed button will place the RiVO into bluetooth pairing mode. The requisite writing (brand, model, and so on) is also present on this face.

The RiVO is very light, so light you might think you had a dummy unit at first. It is made of plastic, with no metal on any outer surface. I have no idea how tough this light plastic is, and for $129 I might have expected something that feels more durable. Still, for all I know, this plastic might be incredibly strong, but I'm not about to drop my RiVO to test that out. Mobience tells me the plastic is durable, and coated in a scratch-resistant material, but no hard numbers or drop tests were provided. That said, the weight, specifically the lack thereof, is impressive - I can easily forget I have the RiVO in my pocket, it is so light.

The buttons are all uniform: rectangular, a bit wider than they are tall, and slightly convex. The only exception is B5 (the 5 key on the phone-style keypad), which is the same size as all the other buttons, but concave to help it stand out. As mentioned above, there is a thin, raised vertical line that runs between the L keys and the 1, 2, and 3 keys, and another between the R keys and 3, 6, and 9. Mobience says this is for orientation, but until they confirmed that, it almost seemed like a flaw of some kind. It is almost invisible to the touch, and does not extend all the way down to the bottom row of keys. If orientation guides are the goal, they need to be made much easier to feel.

My RiVO has a black back and sides. The top is black due to the black buttons, which have gray, blue, and white writing that is difficult to read for anyone not fully sighted. A thin silver line runs vertically along each side of the phone-style keypad, separating it from the left- and right-most lines of keys. Overall, it looks as though low vision never entered into the RiVO's design; the writing is small, none of the buttons are different colors, no colors are used to divide up the buttons or button groups, and the charging port and on/off button blend into the shell of the RiVO. Of course, the target market is blind, not low vision, but high-contrast might be important to many users, and you will not find it in this generation of the RiVO.

Controls

As mentioned, the point of the RiVO is to provide a more convenient, push-button interface to VoiceOver. For instance, the 4 and 6 keys on the phone-style keypad perform left and right flicks, respectively, while the 5 key issues the double tap command. The 1 and 7 keys jump to the top and bottom of the screen, the 8 key is the Home key, and so forth. Unfortunately, not everything is so straightforward.

RiVO uses different modes to do different things. There are four typing modes, a navigation mode, and a media control mode. Unfortunately, RiVO includes no beep, vibration, or other indicator of which mode it is in, so you must remember, or press buttons and see what happens. It is easy enough to force a switch to the mode you want, at most a couple keypresses, as the RiVO can only be in one mode at a time and mode activation is not a toggle.

Worse still, the commands seem to be almost random, especially for switching modes or issuing Voiceover commands like speech or screen toggles. For example, L1 (the top left button) is used to control the rotor, yet also controls the media playback commands. It is also how you lock/unlock your iOS device, or toggle speech or the screen curtain, or Quick Nav. By itself, L1 is the escape key. While it is used to issue media-related commands, to lock media control mode, you do not use L1 at all, but rather L3 with the 1 key on the phone-style keypad.

L2 scrolls left a page, even though L3 moves between the four typing modes, and L4 enters number mode. To exit typing or number modes, you go across the RiVO to R4 (the fourth button down on the right, in other words, the lower right button). However, when in any typing mode, L1 becomes escape, R1 becomes delete, and other keys change functions as well. While all this makes a sort of sense after you spend some time in VoiceOver's practice mode, and the RiVO's designers had to do something to make only twenty buttons perform so many actions, it can still be confusing. The worst of it is that there is simply no way to know what mode you are in if you lose track or accidentally hit the wrong button. The best thing to do is return to normal mode with R4, then go back into whatever mode you wanted (assuming you are not editing text, since in that case R4 becomes a different key entirely). While not a big problem most of the time, you might find yourself playing music when you don't mean to, or thinking the RiVO is unresponsive because you entered a typing mode when no edit field is present. Speaking of which, it is important to note that no typing mode is entered automatically when the on-screen keyboard would normally be present, so once you double tap an edit field, you must enter the typing mode you want before you can type. To be fair, detection of edit fields is not possible for the RiVO, or any connected keyboard, simply due to the design of iOS. Still, it is something to keep in mind.

Typing

I've said a lot about typing. Yes, you can enter text with the RiVO's numeric keypad. This can be done in one of three ways: numbers, small QWERTY, or ABC.

  • Numbers Mode is simply where each number key enters its number. You can press L4 to enter this mode, or hold down L4 as you press a number key to enter that key's number without leaving the typing mode you are in.
  • Small QWERTY: this mode assigns letters to the ten number keys, but not in the usual order. The layout is difficult to get used to, as there is nothing similar of which i am aware. For example, the letters E, W, and Q are assigned to the number 1 key, in that order, while T, U, and Y are assigned to the 2 key.
  • ABC Mode: this is the normal letters-to-numbers assignment many people already know. The number 2 has A, B, and C, 3 has D, E, and F, and so on.

In any mode, you can also enter symbols (punctuation). To do this, you would press the star key, enter your desired symbol, and keep typing - the RiVO puts you back in the last typing mode used once one symbol is entered.

Small QWERTY Mode is the default. Mobience tells me that it takes only 35% more pressing of keys than it would on a full-sized keyboard, despite having only nine keys to work with. The order of the assigned letters is also important. For instance, when you are typing, you will want an E more often than a Q, and so the E is first when you press the number 1 key. In this way, the total amount of kepresses is diminished, since the most common letters are first on each key. It is a smart layout, but again, not something you will be used to.

When typing, you also have access to selection and manipulation features. You can select text, cut, copy, and paste, undo, and redo. R4 is the key to be used for this, in conjunction with the B keys.

The Good

The RiVO is a small, light device that lets you do nearly everything you can on the screen of an iOS device, and then some, assuming you are a VoiceOver user. You can even type, and manipulate text. Those with motor problems may find this device to be particularly useful, as it removes the need to issue gestures while providing a way to control VoiceOver that does not involve multi-key commands on an external keyboard. Even sighted people may find it useful for typing, controlling media playback, bringing up Siri, answering or ending calls, manipulating text, and so forth. It is also worth noting that those who have the use of only one hand should be able to use the RiVO with little problem. The unit is small enough that I can easily press two keys simultaneously with one hand.

The Bad

I've tried to like the RiVO, I really have. However, it is $129 but feels much cheaper than that. In addition:

  • The command set is confusing and takes a lot of getting used to, which would not be so bad if there were some kind of help mode to describe each keypress. Entering practice mode in Voiceover helps, but Voiceover will not speak commands that only control RiVO, such as switching input modes. I can imagine a simple app being made for this purpose, one that can see everything the RiVO does and speak aloud what is going on. The command set needs to be complex since so much is done with so few buttons, but some assignments feel completely at odds with the rest. This is not a deal-breaker, but if you plan to use a RiVO, be warned that you will have to spend a lot of time getting used to it - it is not at all like picking up a new keyboard.
  • There is no speaker or vibration motor in the RiVO. This means that the input mode, battery charge level, bluetooth status, on/off status, and so on cannot be communicated to the user at all. Mobience says that users get to know how the RiVO works after a while and don't need such cues, but I disagree. For instance, there is no way to tell if your battery is dead or if you held the power button too long and turned your unit off, or if the bluetooth connection dropped. While I can see not indicating input modes, there is no way around the fact that some way of communicating battery charge, on/off status, and bluetooth status would help a great deal.
  • If someone with motor difficulties is considering a RiVO, be warned that the buttons all feel exactly alike and are not easy to distinguish unless you have good feeling in your fingers. I do, but I can see someone with nerve damage or other sensory problems in the fingers having a very hard time feeling which buttons are which, as they are all identical, or even feeling where one button ends and another begins. That said, the buttons are large and smooth enough that adding your own tactile identifiers should not be a big problem. Still, it would have been very nice to see much more thought put into the tactile representation of this device's controls.
  • Speaking of which, the power button is just that: a button. It is not a rocker, slider, knob, or anything else that provides tactile feedback as to whether it is in the on or off position. The RiVO is set to turn itself off after five minutes of inactivity, so a simple push button makes sense there. However, I feel it would make even more sense to have the RiVO turn itself back on when any key is pressed, assuming the on/off control is in the on position. As it stands now, the user has no way of knowing if their RiVO is on but disconnected, off, out of battery, or malfunctioning for some reason.
  • The build quality is concerning. While impressively light, the buttons feel cheap, similar to the little remotes that come with air conditioners. I feel like pressing anything too vigorously or in the wrong way might damage something. The plastic from which the entire device is constructed is similarly concerning. As I said above, it could be the world's strongest plastic, I have no way of knowing, but just holding it makes me doubt it would stand up to very much abuse. Mobience tells me their build quality is on par with most small bluetooth keyboards, whatever that translates to in terms of actual durability.
  • According to Mobience themselves, the mini USB port cannot be used to upgrade the RiVO's firmware. If they ever come out with new features or bug fixes, it is unclear how existing users will be able to take advantage since there is no way to upgrade any current RiVOs. They say that the RiVO is already as comprehensive as it will get, which sounds to me as though no new upgrades are planned. Given that their firmware is already at 1.2.3, I find this an odd statement.
  • The battery life is quite bad. My first full day with the RiVO, the battery died only about six hours after I pulled it off the charger. I had charged it all night, and had not used it constantly throughout the day, so it was in standby a good amount of those six hours (remember that it goes into standby after ten minutes of inactivity).

Bottom Line

The RiVO is a nice idea that is, in its current form and in my opinion, overpriced and not as well thought out as it could be. I'd like to see, at the very least:

  • better construction, not just in the shell of the device but also in the tactile layout and design of the buttons
  • some way, perhaps via a vibration motor, to indicate system status (charge, bluetooth connection, current mode, and the like)
  • a help mode, probably in the form of a companion app, to fully explain each keypress

The RiVO could be a very useful device, and I hope Mobience is taking notes for the next generation. This feels more like a public beta than a final product, but with improvements, the RiVO has the potential to be a very helpful device.

I also must commend Mobience on their public relations. I asked a few questions about the RiVO on a public email list, mentioning that I knew some of my clients (I am an AT instructor) might find the device helpful. A few days later, they emailed me privately, extending an offer of a discounted unit if I agreed to show it to my clients and provide Mobience with feedback. This was a very generous offer, and I have enjoyed working with Mobience. I hope to continue to do so, and I will certainly introduce my RiVO to any client I feel might benefit from it. However, I cannot currently recommend this product to very many people due to the problems above, and I will have to be forthright even with those who may find it useful. I wish Mobience the best of luck moving forward, and I hope to remain in contact with them, but the current RiVO line contains serious problems that need to be addressed. After all, they are charging over half the price of an entire iPod Touch, or about a third the price of an iPad Mini, just for the RiVO.

If you are a RiVO user, please sound off in the comments. I'd love to hear from people who have used the RiVO for longer than I have. If I have any facts or impressions wrong, please let me know and I will update this review accordingly.

Devices Accessory Was Used With: 

iPhone

Rating: 

3 Stars

Disclaimer

The review on this page has generously been submitted by a member of the AppleVis community. As AppleVis is a community-powered website, we make no guarantee, either express or implied, of the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this review.

27 Comments

#1 Thanks for the review.

App Developer

Reading the review, however, I’m afraid there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about RiVO. So I’d like to take time to add comments and explanation one by one about the concept of RiVO. I think this review could be the first impression by some people, but at the same time, it may also serve a good FAQ-style introduction about RiVO. Since we have worked very hard and we are doing our best in making this unique product and we are proud of what we are doing, I hope you understand and excuse me for these direct comments from a member of the company. I thank you again for taking valuable time to review in detail which should be the longest as far as I know. We did, do, and promise to listen to whatever our customers, who are mostly blind people for the moment due to its very nature, say about RiVO to find problems and make improvements as best as we can.

#2 What’s a RiVO and who’s it for?

App Developer

Review:

Mobience is marketing this device to any iOS device owner who uses VoiceOver, and anyone who wants a truly compact keyboard and phone/media playback remote. Personally, I see it as more of a help to those with motor difficulties that make it difficult or impossible for them to easily issue touch screen gestures. However, Mobience says the RiVO can help anyone, and is a good way to increase productivity and confidence when using iOS with VoiceOver. It also nearly eliminates the need for touching your iOS device, so you can keep that tucked away and use a RiVO to issue commands - a company representative said he uses his as he drives, to control his music and issue other commands. Finally, it may prove helpful to those who, for whatever reason, have trouble remembering all the gestures needed to make full use of VoiceOver. It is complex enough in its own right, however, that this may not prove to be the case for everyone.

Comment:

What we mean by VoiceOver users is mostly blind people as we generally understand from the VoiceOver technology from Apple. But we don't want to exclude other possibilities. There are people with motor difficulties who use VoiceOver, and some people want to control iOS devices remotely for whatever reasons. VoiceOver is characterized as being universal in this regard and we want RiVO to be an accessory to help them understand this universal VoiceOver better and use iOS devices with touchscreens better with convenience, speed and precision for their diverse needs. Having said that, however, we don’t mean RiVO is for everyone. Some people might feel complex and difficult about RiVO just like people would feel about VoiceOver itself. There are many functions supported by RiVO to accomplish the task of allowing people to use iOS devices without touching the screen at all. In our experience, RiVO is generally accepted by blind people as easier, faster and convenient than the plain VoiceOver interface. We recommend people, however, to get familiar with VoiceOver first to enjoy using RiVO since knowing VoiceOver is a must. This speeds up learning RiVO and increases productivity with iOS devices. The better they know about VoiceOver, the better they will enjoy RiVO. We also definitely recommend people to use iOS devices with VoiceOver gestures even together with RiVO since it's the very native and wonderful interface built within every iOS device. Just as VoiceOver is complex in its own right with all the gesture commands, rules and internal mechanism to process them within iOS, so is RiVO. But we have elaborated so much time and effort trying to reduce the complexity and to introduce the beauty of simplicity and efficiency with fewer buttons.

#3 Physical Description #1

App Developer

Review:

The RiVO is very light, so light you might think you had a dummy unit at first. It is made of plastic, with no metal on any outer surface. I have no idea how tough this light plastic is, and for $129 I might have expected something that feels more durable. Still, for all I know, this plastic might be incredibly strong, but I'm not about to drop my RiVO to test that out. Mobience tells me the plastic is durable, and coated in a scratch-resistant material, but no hard numbers or drop tests were provided. That said, the weight, specifically the lack thereof, is impressive - I can easily forget I have the RiVO in my pocket, it is so light.

Comment:

RiVO doesn't easily split up when accidentally slipped away from hands unlike other portable keyboards. They should also be made strong but I think it's because of their inescapable weights. We want RiVO to be as light and strong as possible to make it as portable as possible. Shell material is shiny black plastic with scratch-resistant coating. If RiVO contains any metal on the outer surface, then it could easily scratch iPhone since people usually carry them together in the same pocket. The power button is a simple toggle button with quick Bluetooth connection and disconnection, and if you get used to it, you won’t be confused about the current connection status.

#4 Physical Description #2

App Developer

Review:

There is a thin, raised vertical line that runs between the L keys and the 1, 2, and 3 keys, and another between the R keys and 3, 6, and 9. Mobience says this is for orientation, but until they confirmed that, it almost seemed like a flaw of some kind. It is almost invisible to the touch, and does not extend all the way down to the bottom row of keys. If orientation guides are the goal, they need to be made much easier to feel.

Comment:

There are 12 keys in the middle just like standard telephone keypad, and there are 4 additional keys on the left and on the right, respectively. Thin, hard-to-feel raised lines separate the four L keys and the four R keys from the middle twelve B keys. If the raised lines are felt easily, people would feel tired whenever they need to smoothly come across buttons while moving a finger over the surface of the buttons. RiVO’s orientation can easily be identified with the power button on the left side, or the USB slot on the bottom side, or the pairing button on the back side, and thus it's not the real purpose of those slightly raised thin lines. Further, those nine buttons in the middle from B1 to B9 in 3-by-3 arrangement are central to RiVO especially when typing. That's why it didn't extend to the bottom line. I can also say there is an important concept behind this design, which is the basis of what our company does and what RiVO relies on.

#5 Physical Description #3

App Developer

Review:

The top is black due to the black buttons, which have gray, blue, and white writing that is difficult to read for anyone not fully sighted. A thin silver line runs vertically along each side of the phone-style keypad, separating it from the left- and right-most lines of keys. Overall, it looks as though low vision never entered into the RiVO's design; the writing is small, none of the buttons are different colors, no colors are used to divide up the buttons or button groups, and the charging port and on/off button blend into the shell of the RiVO. Of course, the target market is blind, not low vision, but high-contrast might be important to many users, and you will not find it in this generation of the RiVO.

Comment:

Many functions are mapped on each button, thus labels on each button couldn't mean much other than distinguishing just different buttons. I can say there simply cannot exist any fixed grouping of buttons which can deliver consistent meaning across modes other than LCD buttons which can change their colors and labels. The function of each button at any time depends solely on the current mode of RiVO, which you can select easily and clearly whenever you want.

Further, since the number of buttons are small and big-sized, people use it without necessarily looking at the buttons and without watching the labels within each button other than just confirming which button they are pressing by feeling the buttons. Indeed you could touch and feel the buttons and select each one of them you need to press as you wish without actually watching them as you practice. People just touch and find the buttons to press rather easily since the middle twelve buttons are familiar arrangement. Two slightly raised lines dividing L and R buttons from middle B buttons, together with the concave button 5, would also help people locate buttons without watching. It's unlike the QWERTY keyboard with many buttons, whether it be full-sized or miniature-sized.

Moreover, all the command sets in RiVO, which are grouped into modes, have been designed to be easily memorized. So people don't really look at buttons when using it. We saw some of our customers placed stickers on a few buttons to locate easily just like they place stickers on a few buttons in computer keyboard. However, most of them seem to use it just as it is.

#6 Controls #1

App Developer

Review:

As mentioned, the point of the RiVO is to provide a more convenient, push-button interface to VoiceOver. For instance, the 4 and 6 keys on the phone-style keypad perform left and right flicks, respectively, while the 5 key issues the double tap command. The 1 and 7 keys jump to the top and bottom of the screen, the 8 key is the Home key, and so forth. Unfortunately, not everything is so straightforward.

Comment:

There are many commands and functions necessary to control iPhone. These should be mapped in any way. However, like I mentioned before, we have elaborated so much time and effort trying to make it as simple and straightforward as possible. I believe our customers agree on this, and you will see if you just try it. There could be no magic here that could be so straightforward to everyone right away.

#7 Controls #2

App Developer

Review:

RiVO uses different modes to do different things. There are four typing modes, a navigation mode, and a media control mode. Unfortunately, RiVO includes no beep, vibration, or other indicator of which mode it is in, so you must remember, or press buttons and see what happens. It is easy enough to force a switch to the mode you want, at most a couple key presses, as the RiVO can only be in one mode at a time and mode activation is not a toggle.

Comment:

You can set RiVO to whatever mode you want simply by pressing a fixed mode button. As pointed out well in the review, it's not a toggle interface and thus you don’t need to remember the current mode. Even if RiVO should let you know which mode it becomes by a sound, it may not help you remember the mode at a later time. Further, if RiVO makes a sound whenever its mode changes, it could be tiresome. As you continue to use it, I bet you would find these as clear.

#8 Controls #3

App Developer

Review:

Worse still, the commands seem to be almost random, especially for switching modes or issuing Voiceover commands like speech or screen toggles. For example, L1 (the top left button) is used to control the rotor, yet also controls the media playback commands. It is also how you lock/unlock your iOS device, or toggle speech or the screen curtain, or Quick Nav. By itself, L1 is the escape key. While it is used to issue media-related commands, to lock media control mode, you do not use L1 at all, but rather L3 with the 1 key on the phone-style keypad.

Comment:

Keys work according to current mode. L1 is "escape" in navigation mode, and "tab" in typing mode. When combined with other keys, it acts like an "Fn" key to alter the function of each button, and nothing else. If you try to experiment those L1-combination keys, it should become clear to you. Again, there’s no magic which is so straightforward. Users need to read the online manual carefully and understand the concept and the commands before using it. However, it would not be that difficult to read it all; we have got comments from our customers that manual is written well.

#9 Controls #4

App Developer

Review:

L2 scrolls left a page, even though L3 moves between the four typing modes, and L4 enters number mode. To exit typing or number modes, you go across the RiVO to R4 (the fourth button down on the right, in other words, the lower right button).

Comment:

L2 and R2 scrolls pages left and right, just like B4 and B6 are for left and right flicks. They match in position in pairs as B4 and L2 are on the left side of middle B5, while B6 and R2 are on the right side of middle B5. L3 for alphabet, L4 for number, and R4 for navigation are fixed basic mode buttons you have to remember to use RiVO, which are considered the best locations for these buttons.

#10 Controls #5

App Developer

Review:

When in any typing mode, L1 becomes escape, R1 becomes delete, and other keys change functions as well. While all this makes a sort of sense after you spend some time in VoiceOver's practice mode, and the RiVO's designers had to do something to make only twenty buttons perform so many actions, it can still be confusing.

Comment:

Similar to those corresponding buttons in computer keyboard, L1 corresponds to the tab key, R1 corresponds to the backspace key, R3 corresponds to the enter key, and B# (or B pound) corresponds to the space key. When in navigation mode, L1 corresponds to the escape key. When designing RiVO interface, we tried to find the most intuitive and natural locations for corresponding functions in respect to full keyboard.

#11 Controls #6

App Developer

Review:

The worst of it is that there is simply no way to know what mode you are in if you lose track or accidentally hit the wrong button. The best thing to do is return to normal mode with R4, then go back into whatever mode you wanted (assuming you are not editing text, since in that case R4 becomes a different key entirely). While not a big problem most of the time, you might find yourself playing music when you don't mean to, or thinking the RiVO is unresponsive because you entered a typing mode when no edit field is present. Speaking of which, it is important to note that no typing mode is entered automatically when the on-screen keyboard would normally be present, so once you double tap an edit field, you must enter the typing mode you want before you can type. To be fair, detection of edit fields is not possible for the RiVO, or any connected keyboard, simply due to the design of iOS. Still, it is something to keep in mind.

Comment:

RiVO can't and shouldn't just change from navigation mode into typing mode even if a text field is activated. There are so many other possibilities of actions that could follow the action of activating a text field. Further, as I mentioned earlier, you can set RiVO to whatever mode you want simply by pressing a fixed mode button. People really won’t find themselves doing something else just because they temporarily have got lost about the current mode. They know they forgot about the current mode if they’re not sure, and they usually start by setting the mode they want since it can be done very easily. 

#12 Typing

App Developer

Review:

Small QWERTY: this mode assigns letters to the ten number keys, but not in the usual order. The layout is difficult to get used to, as there is nothing similar of which i am aware. For example, the letters E, W, and Q are assigned to the number 1 key, in that order, while T, U, and Y are assigned to the 2 key.

It is a smart layout, but again, not something you will be used to.

When typing, you also have access to selection and manipulation features. You can select text, cut, copy, and paste, undo, and redo. R4 is the key to be used for this, in conjunction with the B keys.

Comment:

smallQWERTY layout is similar to QWERTY layout. It's the most similar 3-by-3 layout to QWERTY. We understand it might not be familiar even that said since it's a new layout anyway.

Let me explain just about button 1. There are letters Q, W and E in the upper left corner of QWERTY layout, which corresponds to button 1. That's why we have assigned those letters in button 1. However, it's better to get E when we press button 1 once since it's the most frequent letter among the three letters. If we tap twice, then we get W, tap triple times, then we get Q. They are just according to statistics which will become clear if you try typing with smallQWERTY. Most of the time, specifically 70% of the time, you are tapping buttons once to enter letters like E. 25% of the time you are tapping twice for letters like W, and only 5% of the time you need to tap triple times for letters like Q. That makes smallQWERTY is extremely fast to type. With just 9 buttons you need to tap just 35% more than QWERTY with 26 buttons.

These are the rationale behind smallQWERTY. This may look like complicated, but people will really understand what we have come up with smallQWERTY when they try typing with it. If you try yourself, as most of our customers agree, it is rather easy to learn. And the typing becomes very comfortable and fast unlike ABC. The true power of RiVO comes from smallQWERTY. Nevertheless, ABC is also supported for people who want to use the layout anyhow.

Typing letters, numbers and symbols are all based on a firm, consistent and common framework that you will get to know. People also like the most common text editing functions intuitively supported by RiVO.

#13 Recent Comments

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Just so everyone who reads this is aware, comments authored by the user Ein are made by a representative from Mobience, based in South Korea. Thanks to Mobience for taking the time to respond in such detail.

If other users, or potential users, want to add their thoughts to this discussion, I think that would be wonderful. With a company rep monitoring this thread, now is a great time to get things sorted out, so if you've been wanting to step in and say something, now is the perfect chance!

#14 Appendix #1

App Developer

Review:

The command set needs to be complex since so much is done with so few buttons, but some assignments feel completely at odds with the rest.

Comment:

The complexity and coverage of commands of RiVO might be felt overwhelming. But actually they are not. I'm not saying that people can use it without learning, but learning it doesn't really take long or difficult. We really have elaborated on making it simple, consistent and useful.

#15 Appendix #2

App Developer

Review:

While impressively light, the buttons feel cheap, similar to the little remotes that come with air conditioners.

Comment:

We really never heard of it compared to cheap remotes. However, we will surely try improving it better and better.

#16 Appendix #3

App Developer

Review:

If they ever come out with new features or bug fixes, it is unclear how existing users will be able to take advantage since there is no way to upgrade any current RiVOs.

Comment:

RiVO is not upgradable in the firmware. However, it is compatible across all the iDevice models in its core regarding VoiceOver and its smallQWERTY typing interface. RiVO has been working since iOS 4 without modifications and we believe it will continue to work also in future versions of iOS. We have introduced added functionality while versions are updated; however, they are small in number and we believe most of our previous customers are still happy without those added functionality. I can say that current RiVO is as comprehensive as possible in its current form. There could remain some, and we will continue to find and add them, but RiVO could make you better than ever in using your iPhone in its current status.

#17 Appendix #4

App Developer

Review:

The battery life is quite bad. My first full day with the RiVO, the battery died only about six hours after I pulled it off the charger. I had charged it all night, and had not used it constantly throughout the day, so it was in standby a good amount of those six hours (remember that it goes into standby after ten minutes of inactivity).

Comment:

Normally RiVO can last more than a month in standby mode, and you can use at least 10 hours continuously.

#18 Why was RiVO developed

Hello, With all due respect, why was RiVO developed? Also, was it developed by and the concept tested by people who are blind? My reason for asking is that I'm struggling to see why this would be useful to a VoiceOver user when other, universal mainstream solutions are available?

#19 Thanks for your questions. We

App Developer

Thanks for your questions. We had some conversation with a group of blind iPhone users and figured out the needs. RiVO was not developed by blind people, but mainly developed with blind people in mind. And you're right, there are many other solutions available to people, and RiVO is just one choice. We just hope RiVO to be one of the universal mainstream solutions. We've got good feedback so far about RiVO and we just want to do better. Thanks.

#20 Appendix #5 (final)

App Developer

Review:

I also must commend Mobience on their public relations. I asked a few questions about the RiVO on a public email list, mentioning that I knew some of my clients (I am an AT instructor) might find the device helpful. A few days later, they emailed me privately, extending an offer of a discounted unit if I agreed to show it to my clients and provide Mobience with feedback. This was a very generous offer, and I have enjoyed working with Mobience. I hope to continue to do so, and I will certainly introduce my RiVO to any client I feel might benefit from it. However, I cannot currently recommend this product to very many people due to the problems above, and I will have to be forthright even with those who may find it useful. I wish Mobience the best of luck moving forward, and I hope to remain in contact with them, but the current RiVO line contains serious problems that need to be addressed. After all, they are charging over half the price of an entire iPod Touch, or about a third the price of an iPad Mini, just for the RiVO.

Comment:

I also really wanted to see how your clients feel about RiVO since I heard just a little bit about people who are physically challenged but are using RiVO with VoiceOver. In this regard, I thank you to accept my small offer and try testing yourself with your clients for any feedback. For them, current RiVO might be too small, too light and even too weak. Thanks to you, we could have a feeling that if they like VoiceOver which has been originally made for visually challenged people in mind from Apple, and if RiVO can also be of any help to them, we should consider providing RiVO according to meet different preferences like sizes and functional levels. I would be happy to hear any further responses from your clients, if any, later on since all of us here have just this pure and sincere mind in hoping to be of any help to those who might get some help from our product and understand them better.

Regarding the price, we know it's quite high for a small keyboard. But RiVO is not a normal keyboard which can be just copy-produced without R&D. So we can't help it but need to have that as a minimal price in order for us to do our development and continue to provide to people who may want our product. Although RiVO can't fulfill all the diversities of people, people here are trying hard to see the last person on earth be happy and enjoy the benefit from using smartphone even if they never happy with touchscreens and gestures.

#21 RiVO's Usefulness

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

A commenter asked why RiVO was developed when other solutions exist. While I maintain that it has problems, here is how I can imagine it being helpful:

  • Instead of carrying a full-sized or even folding bluetooth keyboard, you carry this RiVO. It is lighter, smaller, and can be more easily used with one hand.
  • You want a way to control your media playback, but your bluetooth keyboard has no function keys for this.
  • You lack a bluetooth keyboard altogether.
  • You like the portability of your iPod or iPhone, but want something with real buttons - you are just not comfortable with the touch-only interface on iOS.

Is it for everyone? No, not by a long shot. Still, it can be very useful in certain situations.

#22 How I'd use it

Club AppleVis Member

I currently do not have any desire to get a Rivo, but I can definitely see a situation down the road where I might want this, particularly if I get a different iOS device from the iPad Air I currently have, such as an iPod Touch. With my iPad, the wireless keyboard I use now works well, and the two are similar in size, so there isn't really an advantage for me to get a smaller keyboard. If, however, I had an iPod Touch, the keyboard I have now would be considerably larger, whereas a Rivo would be more convenient. The price, though high, is not a deal breaker for me.

#23 Demonstration of RiVO

App Developer

Listen to an audio demonstration of RiVO from a podcast, called iSee - How to use Apple Products from an Accessibility Perspective. You will find a lot of audio demonstrations of other useful products from the podcast.

Visit one of the following links:Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id423121261PodBean: http://davidwoodbr.podbean.comTwitter: https://twitter.com/dwoodbridge/status/463942376075960320

FYI, RiVO demonstration is posted in the podcast on May 7, 2014.Thanks.

Ein

RiVO: mobience.com/rivo Twitter: twitter.com/mobience Facebook: facebook.com/mobience

#24 Direct links to download audio files in the podcast

App Developer

I was asked to provide the URL of audio files in the podcast since it's difficult to access them if not viewed with Podcasts app in the iPhone. There are many useful audio files in the podcast, but let me just extract the URLs of most recent three of them for your convenience:

Demo of using Maps in OS X Mavericks to get route steps from origin to destination location. May 14, 2014.

Demo of using the RIVO (custom) Bluetooth keyboard for VoiceOver users on the iPhone. May 7, 2014.

Demo of the FitBit Flex (exercise band) with the iPhone Using VoiceOver. May 2, 2014.

#25 thanks for this; I listened

thanks for this; I listened to David's review and also had similar thoughts to what you expressed here with the commands being a lot to learn and they seemed all over the place; that's what put me off this one.
Like you, I thought it was a nice idea but if there was some kind of pattern to the commands used.
Also, i didn't even think of the lack of indication beeps while listening to the podcast but that's a good point and another deal breaker for me as well. Perhaps we could look forward to a better product in the future with this kind of feedback to the developpers.

#26 My Thoughts on RiVo

Like others, I have evaluated the RiVo, and I feel they tried to do too much with it.

I'm looking for a remote control, but I only want one for media playback, navigation, and siri. I'd mainly use it when I was on the road and wanted to keep the iPhone out of sight. Does anyone have any suggestions for this issue? Thanks.

#27 Rivo keyboard and other platform

Can this keyboard be connected to windows 7 laptop?