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  • 1. The 3G signing revolution Gunnar Hellstrm, Omnitor TDI-2007


  • Omnitor
  • Technology company situated in Stockholm, Sweden
  • 20 employees of which half is deaf or hard of hearing
  • Developments, products, services, projects, standardisation.
  • Accessible communication
  • Improving deaf communication
  • Bring modern telecom development to benefit for all
  • Co-operation with Trace and Gallaudet in Accessible communication projects.

3. Sign language calls went mobile in Sweden in September 2004

  • Two things triggered a dramatic improvement in deaf communication in Sweden in September 2004
  • Launch of a wireless 3G videophone usable for signing
  • A marketing offer of free phones and free video calls within the operator.
  • The result: 70% of signing deaf Swedes use 3G video calls as one of their favourite communication means.

4. Tytn 5. Pure luck

  • The revolution was no planned accessibility action,it was pure luck and a mainstream market trick.
  • What was the threshold that made the success?
    • One usable videophone
    • Video frame rate over 12 frames per second
    • Usable screen size
    • Usable camera angle
    • Attractive cost through mainstream indroduction offer by operator 3.
    • Many times faster, less expensive and more natural than sms messages
  • Summary: Positive cost/benefit situation caused rapid acceptance

6. Relay service with 3G access

  • The Swedish Telecom Agency followed up with a project to try video relay services through 3G video.
  • It was successful, so now 3G video relay is included in the Swedish video relay service
  • Adds to the value of the mobile videophone.
  • Free video relay and distant interpreting

7. Technical facts and quality

  • The current 3G videophones make use of
    • Circuit switched technology in UMTS wireless system
    • 64 kbit/s
    • H.324M standard
  • Picture frequency varies largely between models. The best can make 15 fps.
  • 15 is possible to use but jerky, 20 is smooth and good
  • Resolution: QCIF=176*144, usable.

8. Video phones

  • For a long time, only one videophone gave usable performance. NEC 616.
  • All others had too low frame rate.
  • Now a few models give equal performance as the NEC 616.
  • Still screen size, camera angle and camera low light sensitivity are common problem areas.
  • Hard to know for phone buyers what videophones are usable. First step: Small evaluation and report by the Swedish Handicap Institute. 6 handsets only but an important beginning.
  • Follow up needed with brief declaration of usability for signing of every newmobile videophone.

9. Next step - Turbo

  • The current 3G videophones give very limited quality. Only usable for short conversations on easy topics.
  • Next step is use of Turbo 3G with IP connection. Gives 384 kbit/s upstream and more downstream.
  • Good quality with laptop and SIP multimedia, compatible with use in the Internet. 25-30 fps smooth, good resolution video.
  • Handsets expected

10. FromTurbo3G The call from Turbo 3G is directly compatible with SIP Total Conversation in the Internet, using Omnitor Allan eC softphone. 11. Total Conversation wanted and possible

  • Now and then during a signed call, there is a need for exact spelling. Especially with current 3G videophones fingerspelling is hard.
  • Then a real-time text feature is very useful.
  • Both Circuit switched and IP 3G standards have real-time text defined. Time for implementation to satisfy accessibility needs.

12. Conclusion

  • 3G video calls are in widespread successful use today in Sweden. Direct calls and relay. A need is filled.
  • Quality is just on the rim to usability. Users must adapt signing rate. Still popular.
  • Better quality can be used today in mobile computer and Turbo 3G. Same standard as landline. Expected in handsets eventually.
  • Standards exist for video, text, voice combination, full deployment would be appreciated by users.
  • Declaration of usability for products is essential to avoid buying products with low sign language performance.

13. Gunnar Hellstrm, Omnitor [email_address] - This work was supported with funding fromthe National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR),U.S. Department of Education, under grant number H133E040013 as part of a co-operation between the Telecommunication Access RehabilitationEngineering Research Center of the University of Wisconsin Trace Centerjoint with Gallaudet University, and Omnitor .The opinions herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the funding agency.

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