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Cellphones enable PA system for the deaf

Chris Ziegler

Typically, when we think of cellphones improving one's quality of life, we're speaking in terms of broadband data, big honkin' autofocus cams, and gobs of flash memory. Researchers in IBM's British facilities are looking at it a little differently, though, looking into how mobile devices might be used to help alert the deaf to PA announcements near their location -- something hearing folk take for granted in airport terminals, train stations, and sports venues, just to name a small few. Their LAMA system (Location Aware Messaging for Accessability) was originally designed with the hard of hearing in mind, but they're pointing out that it could come in handy for pretty much anyone: voice-based services to read signage to the blind, directions to various nearby places for the navigationally challenged, and so on. Better yet, the system may not be that far off, with European trials in train stations possibly coming before the year's out. No word on whether new handsets are required to take advantage of the system, but then again, we're always looking for an excuse to upgrade.


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