to barcodes used on products at the grocery store, VOICEYE encodes
large amounts of data into a small, printed square. Using a free app
available on your smartphone, scanned VOICEYE codes can be translated
and decoded in a variety of ways: print, voice, braille, or translation.
Recently while visiting Seoul, Korea, ABILITYs Lia Martirosyan
spoke with Michael Park, VOICEYEs chief executive and president,
who explained how the magic happens.
Lia Martirosyan: Can you give me a brief overview of VOICEYE?
Michael Park: In 2006, VOICEYE started out as code printed into the
bottom of civil complaint documents that were issued by the government
through the Internet. Since these documents had the potential to be
forged, VOICEYE stored the origin data and digital signature of the
issuing organization in barcode, so that you would know it wasnt
VOICEYE codes have been printed on various certificates, written judgments,
prescriptions and utility bills by entities such as universities,
our Ministry of Public Administration and Security, our Supreme Court,
and also newspapers, magazines, books and leaflets, which are intended
for people with low vision. This gives everyone equal access to the
printed material. In the process, VOICEYE developed printed text data
that could be stored into a small code and combined with Text to Speech
Technology, which can read printed text out loud.
Martirosyan: Whats the difference between VOICEYE code and
the Quick Reference (QR) code that Japans Denso Wave created?
Park: Many people think VOICEYE and QR are the same, but theyre
not. While theyre both two-dimensional barcodes, VOICEYE has
10 times the capacity of QR and can contain various types of data.
For example, if we generate code with 1,000 bytes of data, QR needs
5 square cm to contain it, while VOICEYE only needs 1.4 square cm
due to its high density.
Most QR codes only contain a URL for a web page, but scanned VOICEYE
codes show the full data. Also VOICEYE provides various types of data
formats, including leaflets, schedulers and business cards, which
can be used online or offline.
Martirosyan: I understand, Im guessing VOICEYE has a patent?
Park: We have a number of them for encoding/decoding two-dimensional
barcode, as well as outputting code through voice synthesis. Technology
patents have not only been taken out in Korea, but also in the US,
the European Union and China.
Martirosyan: What feedback are you getting from the Korean market?
Park: The Korean government has adopted VOICEYE code for those who
have low vision, so they have the same access as people without disabilities.
Its been stated in our disability discrimination acts, as well
as in our disabled person welfare laws, that VOICEYE code should be
printed on government documents, certificates and any signs that are
distributed to the public. So our code has been widely adopted to
enhance accessibility for those who have low vision. Also, many government
offices provide a mobile application that can scan VOICEYE code.
Martirosyan: This is great, when did you start marketing your product
Park: Weve been targeting overseas markets for a few years now.
At the moment, we have distributors in the US, UK, Canada, Japan,
France, Thailand, China, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Chile. These countries
have been promoting our technology for use in government, schools
and business. However, unlike in Korea, other countries have no regulations
or laws that urge them to use VOICEYE code for information accessibility.
So, results may be slow, but we have many inquiries and many projects
in the works.
Martirosyan: Weve been working closely with Viewplus, your US
distributors, to make our printed editorial audible. How do people
who are blind know where to find the code on a product?
Park: Theres a standardized location of VOICEYE code at the
right top corner of a paper, making it easy for those who have low
vision to know where to find it. In Korea, most customers print VOICEYE
code into this standardized location; we encourage overseas customers
to do that as well, so that theres a global standard. Moreover,
VOICEYE has been providing stands for smartphones in order to scan
codes more easily for those who have low vision. Once you place your
smartphone on the stand and align it with the right top corner of
a printed piece of material that has our code, you can conveniently
scan and decode it.
Were developing a scanning-indicator mobile application that
helps move to your smartphones location. It can detect even
a portion of a VOICEYE code, and then reveal the whole code. Were
almost finished with it and will upload it to the Mac App Store and
the Google Play in the coming months.
Martirosyan: Good to know! Have you done any focus groups with
individuals who are blind?
Park: In Korea, we test all VOICEYE products with the Seoul National
School for the Blind and the Hanbit School of the Blind before we
release the products on the market. Weve also gotten feedback
and inquiries from people who use VOICEYE decoding devices and smartphone
apps through community sites online.
Martirosyan: How do companies embed VOICEYE onto their printed
Park: Generally, VOICEYE provides plug-in software for MS Word, Adobe
InDesign and QuarkXPress, which can edit printed materials to generate
VOICEYE codes. Customers purchase a license to use VOICEYE Maker and
install it. Then the customer can generate VOICEYE codes containing
whole text data that can be embedded on each page; code will be printed
at the right top corner, which as I mentioned, is starting to become
a global standard.
If customers want to generate codes within their system without plug-in
software, we provide a type of library to generate and print code
automatically. This consists of a library for the server and the client,
which can be interlocked with a reporting tool. Generating code can
be stored as an image file so customers can add it to existing files.
Martirosyan: Can you embed music into the code?
Park: An MP3 file is so big that it cant be stored into something
the size of VOICEYE code, but we can decode a few parts of an MP3
file in a few seconds. This could be used for a simple greeting or
brief voice message.
Martirosyan: Can you have a URL link within the code directing
to a full piece of music?
Park: Why not? VOICEYE code can contain a URL link address. Once customers
scan the code, a linked web page will open and the music will be played
Martirosyan: What future developments should we expect?
Park: Recently, weve created many assistive technology products
using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). VOICEYE code can compensate
when OCR technology is difficult to recognize or might have errors
due to a documents format.
As far as I know, our code is the only technology on the market that
can read and deliver this level of correct, printed data to customers
with smartphones. We also have a business called Phone Marketing to
provide new services with VOICEYE for people without disabilities.
Were making various types of data, including text, business
card, leaflet, audible menu, scheduler and sheet music, which will
combine codes with Near field communication (NFC) technology to create
a new business model. You constantly have to innovate to meet customers
needs and give them top-of-the-line service.
You can read
the complete article and the full magazine, including all of the photos
in our Digi issue, by clicking "Like"
from the Stevie
Shayne — Meningococcal Septicemia
China — Love of Music
VOICEYE — Accessible Code
Stevie Wonder — Isn’t
EARN — Statistics
Japan — Aging is Changing a Country
in the Stevie Wonder Issue; Senator Harkin — Possibilties of
ADA; Ashley Fiolek — Back on Track; Humor — Physical Torture;
Geri Jewell — Boom, there it is!; Dia— Bachelor of Arts
in Deaf Studies; China — Love of Music; Long Haul Paul —
Powder Blue Tuxedo; Betsy — NextSTEP; Japan — Aging is
Changing a Country; Shayne — Meningococcal Septicemia; Special
Olympics — Staying Active; VOICEYE — Accessible Code;
Stevie Wonder — Isn’t He Lovely?!; EARN — Statistics;
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