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July 6th, 2024 BT Speak® System Upgrade Posted By: BT Development Team

Blazie Technologies is pleased to offer this latest update for the BT Speak. It features three Vocalizer voices, a new phone book contacts manager, literary Braille input support in most areas of traditional mode and more. Keep reading to learn what’s been added.

How to Install the Update

  1.  Ensure that you are connected to Wi-Fi and that your battery charge is higher than 50%. To be safe we recommend that you have your unit plugged into either a wall outlet or a USB device capable of charging the battery during the upgrade process.

  2. Press O-chord to open the Options menu.

  3. Press S for the System menu.

  4. Press S for the System Administration menu.

  5. Press U for “Upgrade the System.”

  6. You will be asked if you want to perform the upgrade. To proceed press the letter Y (for yes) followed by the enter key (dot 8.)

During the update process your device will issue short vibrations. It will also provide you with status updates as to what components are being downloaded. During this process you don’t need to do anything; just sit back and let your BT Speak install what it needs for the update. When the update is complete your BT Speak will restart. Once you hear the familiar “BT Speak Ready” message you’ll be able to enjoy the new improvements we’ve added.

New Vocalizer Voices

In addition to eSpeak, Dec-talk and RH Voice, the BT Speak now ships with the compact versions of Tom, Samantha and Nathan Vocalizer voices. These voices are not installed automatically following the update. Here are instructions on how to install the voices.

Installing a Vocalizer Voice onto the BT Speak

To install a Vocalizer voice:

  1. Press O-chord to enter the options menu.

  2. Press S to enter the System menu.

  3. Press S for the System Administration menu.

  4. Press C for the Customize This Device menu.

  5. Press V for Install a Voxin Voice.

The installer will look for the Vocalizer voice installation file on your BT Speak. If a voice installation file is located, you will be presented with a list of available voices that you can install.

Navigate through the list by pressing dot 4- chord to move forward or dot 1-chord to move backward. When you find the voice that you’d like to install, press enter (dot 8.)

Finally, you will need to reboot your BT Speak in order for the newly installed voice to work.

How to Switch to the Vocalizer Text to Speech Engine

  1. Press O-chord for the Options menu.

  2. Press S for the System menu.

  3. Press S for the System Administration menu.

  4. Press S for Settings.

  5. Press S for Speech Settings.

  6. Press T for Text to Speech Engine.

  7. Choose Vocalizer from the list and press enter (dot 8.)

How to Choose a Vocalizer Voice

  1. Press O-chord for the Options menu.

  2. Press S for the System menu.

  3. Press S for the System Administration menu.

  4. Press S for Settings.

  5. Press S for Speech Settings.

  6. Press V for Vocalizer Settings.

  7. Press V for Voice.

  8. Choose a voice from the list and press enter (dot 8.)

Phonebook

We have now added a phonebook application, allowing you to manage all of your contacts from your BT Speak. Phonebook is a database for storing contact names, phone numbers, email and mailing addresses and other notes.

To access Phonebook:

  1. Press O-chord for the Options menu.

  2. Press A for the Applications menu.

  3. Press P for the Personal submenu. (This is a new category.)

  4. You’ll find the new Phonebook application in this menu, along with the Calendar and Voice Notes applications.

The Phonebook menu provides the following choices, along with their respective shortcut keys.

  • Add a Contact: A

  • View Contacts: V

  • Search Contacts: S

Add a Contact

When choosing the Add Contact option, you will hear your BT Speak announce “Name”, where you can enter the name of your contact. Press enter to move to the next field.

The next field is “phone number.” Enter the phone number, followed by enter.

Next, you will hear “email” for entering your contact’s email address. Press enter to move to the next field.

Next, you will hear “address.” Type your contact’s address, followed by the enter key to move to the next field.

Next, you will be in a field titled “Other Notes” for entering any additional information.

Pressing enter will confirm that the entry has been added to your phonebook.

Notes Regarding Adding Entries

Any field can be skipped by pressing the enter key if you don’t have any information for that particular field. The one exception is the “name” field, which cannot be skipped.

The data for each field may be entered in any format. Names and addresses must be entered in one line. In other words, phonebook will not prompt you for items such as first name, last name, city, state, zip, etc. Only one entry can be added for each data field. To add more than one, use the edit menu in the View Contacts function described below.

View Contacts: V

Selecting this option displays a list of all contacts in your phonebook, listed alphabetically by name. Navigate through the list of contacts by pressing dot 1-chord or dot 4-chord. Select a contact by pressing enter (dot 8) to view a list of its phone, email, address, and notes data.

After selecting a particular contact, pressing the enter key while pointing to the name will present two options: Change Name or Delete Contact. If you press the enter key while pointing to Change name, you will hear the prompt “name?”. Type the new name and then press enter (dot 8) to change the contact’s name.

While viewing a contact, selecting Phone, Email, Address or Notes will open the edit menu for the selected data field. From the Edit menu, you can select Edit, add or remove. Choosing Edit will allow you to replace the current entry with a new one. Choosing Add will append new data to the selected field (refer to example below). Choosing Remove allows you to delete the data from the field. Note that Remove only deletes the selected data field such as Phone, Email, Address or Note without deleting any other data stored in the contact.

For example, to add another phone number, select phone number from the list and select add phone number. Enter the phone number to add at the resulting prompt and press enter (dot-8). This will append a new phone number to the contact.

Search Contacts: S

After pressing enter while pointing to “Search Contacts” you will hear “name to search.” You can type a full name or even part of a name. After typing the name you wish to find, press enter. If a contact is found, you will hear the contact’s name being spoken. If more than one contact has been found, you will be in a list of the available contacts.

More Places for Entering Literary Braille in Traditional Mode

As you may know, when you create or import a file which contains a .brl or .brf extension, the BT Speak allows you to enter text using literary Braille, based on which Braille table your device is set to use. With this update, we are expanding this capability by allowing you to enter literary Braille in more places while working in traditional mode. For example, if your Braille table is set to U.S. English, you can now enter file names using Grade 2 Braille. You could also use literary Braille input when entering events in the calendar or when entering contact information in the phone book.

How to Change Braille Input Mode

When you’re at a prompt where input is needed, you can press dots 2-3 chord to switch Braille input to Computer Braille. Pressing dots 5-6 chord switches the Braille input to Literary Braille.

You can also set the default Braille code for prompt input that you want to use. To do this:

  1. Press O-chord for the Options menu.

  2. Press S for the System menu.

  3. Press S for the System Administration menu.

  4. Press S for the Settings menu.

  5. Press B for Braille settings.

  6. Press I for Prompt Input.

You will be provided with two choices: Literary Braille and Computer Braille. Choose the setting that you want as your default for input and press enter.

As an example, if you choose Literary Braille, creating a new file will allow you to type your file name using the literary Braille code which has been set in the Braille Table settings.

Updated AI Chat App (Uses ChatGPT)

To use our AI Chat application, you’ll need to generate an OpenAI key and then fund it with at least $5. OpenAI no longer provides a free tier of access for newly-generated keys. This key is essential for accessing ChatGPT.

For details on obtaining and installing your key on the BT Speak, see the OpenAI Key help topic.

If you place your OpenAI key in a text file on external media or in the Public directory, with the word "key" anywhere in its file name, running  AI Chat will look for this file and automatically move the key to the correct location in your home directory.

AI Chat is a self-voicing application. This means that after you send ChatGPT your question, it will automatically read out the answer to you. You can stop speech at any time by pressing Dots 7 and 8 together.

AI Chat was originally designed for DECtalk and supports a variety of unique DECtalk features when reading information. For example, italics are spoken in a slightly higher pitch, bold is slightly louder than regular text and headings are spoken in a higher pitch. Specific information is spelled out and programming code is read with a higher punctuation level. If you are using DECtalk when you run AI Chat, it will auto-detect DECtalk and utilize the DECtalk enhancements. However, if you would prefer to use a different text to speech engine, AI Chat adapts and still announces headings, quotes, bullet points and more.

The first time you run our new AI Chat app, it will default to gpt-4-turbo-2024-04-09, which has broad general knowledge current to December 2023. While this gpt-4-turbo model is a little slower to respond, its world knowledge and web-based information appears to be much more complete. Its general knowledge answers do appear to be more likely to be accurate, with what we hope will be fewer hallucinations.

GPT-4o is the latest OpenAI model with faster response times, enhanced reasoning ability, and is less expensive than previous engines. Its knowledge is current to October 2023, but may show a tendency to make up facts if information is lacking.

You can use the FlipModel command to flip the current model from one to the other, which updates the default in your config file. This should update your model responses immediately, though sometimes you may need to restart AI Chat for the new setting to take effect.

For more information, please review the AI Chat help file.

New Games Have Been Added

The Applications menu contains a new Games submenu. Its collection of games includes Hangman, Blackjack, text adventure games and others.  As many games derive from third party developers, please do let us know if you encounter any games which don’t work as expected and we will do our best to improve the user experience in future updates.

The Home and End keys (dots 1-3-Chord and dots 4-6-Chord) navigate to the first line and last line in the output history of the game. The Page-Up and Page-Down keys (dots 2-3-Chord and dots 5-6-Chord) move through the output history of the game by paragraph.

New Window Switcher for Desktop Mode

We have added a new feature which will make it much easier to switch windows while in desktop mode. Prior to this update, pressing dots 4-5-8-chord or dots 1-2-8-chord would perform an alt+tab or shift+alt+tab keystroke, respectively.

Now, when you press dots 4-5-8-chord or dots 1-2-8-chord, a window will open that presents a list of currently running application windows. This will allow you to select a window from the list. Your focus will be placed on the button for the current window. Pressing enter or space on a button will move focus to that window.

BTLearn update

This update greatly expands BTLearn, our application for braille education, with features for students to learn and practice braille curriculum.

The new version of BTLearn includes three general options: Llearn, tTeach, and bBraille cChallenge. The lLearn menu consists of an eleven lesson primer in UEB bBraille beginning with the basics of typing letters and ending with partial and short form word contractions. Each lesson pairs with a flashcard-style game to reinforce concepts and develop bBraille typing speed and accuracy. In short, lLearn mode is a UEB primer loaded with activities for reinforcing introductory bBraille typing concepts.

Teach mode contains utilities for bBraille teachers to compose and deliver their own curriculum and testing materials. Within tTeach mode, you'll find two menu options: 'mMake' and 'tTake' a tTest. The new test maker saves the test file to your home directory with the .qzq extension, natrurally making it compatible with the 'tTake a tTest' feature.

Braille Challenge is a game that integrates concepts from the BTLearn curriculum, challenging players to quickly translate random words and phrases into contracted bBraille. The scoring system tracks a number of accuracy and speed metrics and includes an all-time high score system to encourage competition against yourself or other players.

Miscellaneous Fixes

  • We have increased the character limit used for file names. One reason for this change was to accommodate the file names for the Braille titles from the NLS BARD collection.

  • The battery level threshold for doing a system upgrade has been reduced from 50% to 40%. Essentially, this means that you can now perform an update if your battery level is at 40% or higher.

  • In System Administration Settings, Voice Settings has been renamed to Microphone Settings to clarify its intended purpose.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoy the new features and improvements we have added to the BT Speak. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions and feedback.
Phone: (772) 214-1616
Email: support@blazie.net
To join our support discussion group, send an email to
Btspeak+subscribe@groups.io

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