Claro ScanPen V1.8 iOS Released

Version 1.8 of our ScanPen apps for iOS have been released! This latest version introduces the powerful new document detection feature.

Using the new document detection feature allows you to detect and enhance only the documents in your camera feed. It will automatically search, take a photo, crop out any unwanted background space and then straighten the photo to give you the best possible scanning and text selection experience.

For example, these two screenshots compare the photos taken [1] without document detection and [2] with document detection.

[1] Without document detection

The document of interest is slightly skewed and there is a lot of background space that we are not interested in. It scans and reads OK, but it could be better.

[2] With document detection

This is a much better photo. The document is cropped to fit the entire image and it has been straightened up. This results in a much more accurate scanning and text speaking experience.

Along with the new document detection feature, V1.8 also introduces image filters to help you enhance your images. Here is an example of the greyscale filter that we have applied to the above document:

This increases the contrast between the text and the background, enhancing and improving the results of the OCR.

Another major new improvement to V1.8 is the addition of lots more iOS system voices. You can now access Siri voices, enhanced quality voices and male and female voices for many of the supported languages. These voices are all still freely available to use.

For the full release notes of V1.8 of Claro ScanPen, check here: Claro ScanPen V1.8 Release Notes.

View Claro ScanPen and Claro ScanPen Premium on the App Store now!

Controlling Claro VR Apps

We’ve recently developed and released some VR apps for iOS and Android which have been received well.  However, one question that keeps popping up is: How can I control the app?
There is a lack of accessible, adequate control for VR apps.  Generally, there are two forms of user control when using VR apps:
  1. Headset controls.
  2. External controller pads.

Headsets

There are not many headsets that have built in controls.  The main one is the Samsung Gear VR headset that has a directional touch pad as well as back and home buttons:
Samsung Gear VR controls
This works well with our Android apps but this particular headset is only compatible with a limited set of Samsung mobile devices: Galaxy S8 / S8+ / S7 / S7 edge / Note5 / S6 edge+ / S6 /S6 edge (as of December 2017)

 

A cheaper and more accessible alternative to the Gear VR headset is the Google Cardboard headset (or similar).  These are made of cardboard and are around £15 to buy on the Google Store:

 

Cardboard supports most Android or iOS phones with screen sizes from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).  Control is rather limited on these however and is restricted to a single tap on the phones screen:
Google Cardboard
 You can use this single tap feature to perform the main functions in our VR apps.  In MagVR, for example, a single tap will zoom in, until maximum zoom and then the next single tap will zoom out.

 

An example of an alternative cardboard headset would be something like this:

 

 

 

A caveat with using these type of headsets, is that you have to poke/cut a hole in the face, so the device’s camera can see out.  That is why cardboard is suitable! Other suitable headsets include ones with removable or retractable front faces, so the camera can see out.

 

Controllers

Controllers or gamepads are more generic and there are lots to choose from.  These include the more traditional types that you might normally associate with games consoles, that have the X/Y/B/A buttons.

 

XYBA controls
If these state that they are iOS and/or Android compatible then you can use them to control our apps.
An example of one that we tried and tested on iOS, is the Mad Catz Controller:

 

 

 

 

For this particular model, there is also an Android version available.

 

On Android, we used the SteelSeries Nimbus/Stratus controller

 

 

 

These controllers work well but you have to hold and control them with both hands.  If you would prefer something smaller, our VR apps also support “mini” controllers.  These are quite cheap and small, so you can hold the controller and use it with one hand.

 

Mini controller
These mini controllers often have two modes: “game” and “key” or something similar.  To control our apps, they should be toggled to game mode.

 

 

 

iOS Apple Watch

Our iOS apps can also be controlled using an Apple Watch.  When you install one of our VR apps on iOS, you’ll also get the corresponding Watch App installed on your Apple Watch.  You can open this app and control the phone app.

ClaroRead Anywhere V12 Released

We have updated our online cross-platform Web App, ClaroRead Anywhere. This release, which is available to all users immediately, focuses on ease-of-use and performance: we are all busy people and we need the tools we use to work smoothly and easily.

A big part of performance is letting you know that the App is doing what you have told it to do. First, when you use Speech Recognition, you will see the text you are dictating appearing as you say it, rather than in one lump at the end:

Second, when you are converting a file (PDF or image) so you can read the contents aloud and work with them, you’ll get more information that ClaroRead Anywhere is processing and working.

We’ve also made ClaroRead Anywhere better at opening Microsoft Word and Google Docs documents. Lists (bullet points) are better-displayed and easier to read and use.

Finally, if you start a new document but you’ve changed the original, you’ll be prompted to save it – simple, familiar, but a little tweak that stops you potentially losing work. We hope these tweaks make ClaroRead Anywhere more enjoyable to use on your device – which of course can be any tablet, desktop, laptop or phone!

Speech Recognition is only supported in the Google Chrome browser on Windows, Chromebook, iOS and Android.

More

ClaroCom V1.4 Released

In April 2017, we updated our ClaroCom app with a couple of great new features:

Link & chat to iOS device (Pro only)

This adds the ability to connect your device to any other device that is also using ClaroCom. You can then chat between the devices using the text that you type or words or phrases that you select. You can also use your word and phrase prediction to help you compose messages.

This feature is disabled by default, but you can switch it on in the ClaroCom Settings menu:

Then new button will appear on the top toolbar:

Tap this button to open the chat connection window.  ClaroCom will then automatically search for any other devices in range that are also using ClaroCom.  When you find a device you want to connect to, tap it to ask them to chat:

When you are connected, you can close the chat connection window are start chatting:

When you are finished, you can open the chat connection window and tap Disconnect to close the chat and return ClaroCom back to its normal use.

This feature requires bluetooth or Wi-Fi.  The devices must both be using ClaroCom and be on the same Wi-Fi network or within bluetooth range.

Added support for split screen on iPads

You can now use ClaroCom in multi-tasking mode, allowing you to run it split-screen with other apps:

Updated Icon

We’ve also updated the app icons to a more modern style as well as updating the Speak button to match this.

ClaroPDF V1.9 Released

ClaroPDF V1.9 update is now available on the iOS App Store.

What’s new in V1.9?

  • Four free voices – you can now download up to 4 of our high-quality voices for free, inside the Store in ClaroPDF. ClaroPDF no longer comes pre-installed with any installed high-quality voices, so the initial app install time should be significantly reduced. Then you can choose to download your preferred voices in a wide range of languages.
  • Improvements to the “Convert as Text PDF” feature.
  • Export annotations as text.
  • New Animated Speech Highlighting on sentence mode.
  • New background colour chooser.
  • New speech rate slider.
  • Bug fixes.

See the ClaroPDF V1.9 Release Notes page for more detailed information.

ClaroRead for Mac V6 Release Notes

What’s New in V6.0?

  • A New Integrated Optical Character Recognition engine – ClaroRead Plus for Mac now includes its own integrated optical character recognition engine which gives you the rapid Scan from Screen function to capture any inaccessible text, as well as quickly converting scanned files to accessible PDF, Word and text files.
  • New Scan from Paper feature – you can now quickly launch the MacOS Image Capture app and immediately get to scanning in physical documents and creating accessible, digital copies of them using “Scan to ClaroRead”*.
  • New Scan from PDF/File feature – using the new Scan from PDF/File feature you can convert PDF or image files to fully accessible formats, so that ClaroRead can then read aloud. You can also scan inaccessible files and create editable output formats, such as DOCX. Supported output formats are PDF, DOCX, TXT and RTF *.
  • New Scan from screen feature – with the new Scan from screen feature you can select an area of the screen to be read with your mouse and ClaroRead will quickly and accurately scan your chosen area and read it aloud. You can now instantly read anything on your screen as well as copy it to the clipboard.
  • Launch ClaroRead with PDF and image files. ClaroRead now supports opening of PDF and image files directly, so you can choose a PDF/image file, right-click and select Open With, choose ClaroRead and it will launch ClaroRead and start the file scanning process.
  • New extra app – ClaroSpeak. ClaroSpeak is a supportive reading and speaking app that read PDF files, Microsoft Word document, text files and more, aloud, with synchronised highlighting. When you open a document in ClaroSpeak, the text of the document gets copied in to the ClaroSpeak window and then you can also edit any text. ClaroSpeaks built-in text prediction and echo features can help you maintain accurate typing.

Bug fixes

  • Fixed an issue that could cause text in Microsoft Word documents to be removed when speaking them and quickly moving/switching between different documents.
  • Fixed an issue where some prediction items were being spoken twice.

* indicates features only available in ClaroRead Plus

System Requirements

ClaroRead SE/Standard/Plus for Mac:

  • Mac computer with an Intel processor
  • Mac OS X 10.8 or later
  • 850MB of disk space
  • 200MB-650MB for each voice

Recommended:

  • Microsoft Word 2008, 2011, 2016
  • Pages ‘09 (V4)

ClaroRead Pro for Mac:

  • Mac computer with an Intel processor
  • Mac OS X 10.8 or later
  • 1.3GB of disk space
  • 200MB-650MB for each voice

Recommended:

  • Microsoft Word 2008, 2011, 2016
  • Pages ‘09 (V4)

ClaroPDF V1.8 Released

The latest version of ClaroPDF is now available in the App Store!

What’s New in V1.8?

  • iCloud Integration: ClaroPDF is now fully integrated with iCloud Drive so you can save to, and open from your iCloud Drive across all of your iOS devices. You can also quickly save and open documents from other compatible apps using the iCloud Drive feature
  • New My Documents list: There is a brand new My Documents list in V1.8. This new documents list is smoother, faster and organises your documents alphabetically into sections. D
  • Search – there is now a search bar so you can search for documents.
  • Improved rename, move and delete features – these features have an improved UI and it is now possible to move/delete multiple documents simultaneously.
  • Improved the launch of ClaroPDF so it launches faster and cleaner.
  • Many other bug fixes and performance improvements.

Follow @ClaroPDF on Twitter for the latest news and hints & tips.

Check out The Codpasts recent review of our ClaroSpeak Plus App!

New Claro Software website

We are updating our website at www.clarosoftware.com: you should see the new website appearing at any point in the next day. If you have any problems, try hitting Refresh in your browser. If you need it, you can still find the old website at claro2012.clarosoftwaredownloads.com. We’ll retire this at some point, but for now everything is still there.

Thanks for your patience while we switch, and if you do have any problems or need anything from the old site then please do contact us and we’ll do our best to help.

ClaroCom Pro Review

ClaroCom Pro is an app from Claro Software designed for AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), available on iOS for iPad or iPhone. An AAC app helps to replace speech or assist writing for those with impairments in the production or comprehension of spoken or written language. Read more at claro-apps.com.

We’ve received the following helpful review of ClaroCom from Loretta and Krystal.

Loretta has limited use of natural speech so uses ClaroCom to communicate and says “ClaroCom has been highly beneficial with these new things I have to keep in mind about my voice and not over-using it”.

Krystal is unable to speak at all but is now leader of a volunteer call centre providing information technology help desk services to anyone who needs them. Krystal can consistently keep under an 8 minute call time averaging about 5-6 minutes when the goal is 10 minutes using nothing but text to speech (ClaroCom).

ClaroCom Pro AAC App Review by Loretta and Krystal, 11th August 2014

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT an expert in alternative and augmentative communications (AAC) solutions. What works for myself or Krystal MIGHT NOT be the best choice for everyone else. Furthermore the opinions expressed herein are those of myself or Krystal as appropriate. We have no affiliation with the developers of any application mentioned and we were not “bought” to make these opinions, we came to them from actual experience with the products mentioned.

Man… Krystal had me on an adventure into the deep dark corners of the iOS App store. This assignment was because she finally said “it’s time for a communications upgrade for me! A dedicated AAC app is in order!” so off into the app store I went looking for free apps. There were truly free and the “free apps that are just to show you what the paid version can do”. I only focused on the apps that required a zero dollar investment to install.

Two days ago I spent close to 6 hours testing installing and configuring close to 80 different apps from the app store. There was the good, the bad, and the downright incomprehensible. There were those that were feature packed and those that could use a little more meat on the bones.

I was just about ready to call it a night for testing when through an unlikely search I found an app I fell in love with (see Note 1) and was sure Krystal would too. This app is called ClaroCom.  The free version is only limited in a few “minor use” functions… nothing too bad (see Note 2). The free ClaroCom app comes populated with close to 1,024 pre-canned messages in several different categories from restaurants, technology, medical, entertainment, general phrases, and many others. I could add my own phrases to any of these categories and have them be dynamic or static.

A static phrase is something that has no variables like “my name is Loretta, I live on Maple drive in no where California”. Something that never needs revision based on context. A dynamic phrase is kind of like that game madlibs and textually looks like this “I need to know if Dr. ___ has any available appointments on or before ___ in the ___.” If I had multiple doctors this might allow for something like “I need to know if Dr. (Briggs, Shay, Benson, Puckett, Jones) has any available appointments on or before (next Friday, the 15th, June 1st,) in the (morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening).” where any of those items in the parentheses could fill in that part of the sentence or request.

For dynamic speech the ClaroCom dialog will pop up asking “fill in the first blank…” if there’s only one blank, just fill it in. If there is more than one it steps you through them in order. When you fill the first blank and then it asks you to fill the next it shows you the statement up to the blank so in my doctor example first “I need to know if Dr. ___ has any available appointments on or before ___ in the ___.”, then “I need to know if Dr. Shay has any available appointments on or before ___ in the ___.” then “I need to know if Dr. Shay has any available appointments on or before next Tuesday in the ___.” and finally “I need to know if Dr. Shay has any available appointments on or before next Tuesday in the late afternoon.”

These message creation wizards make even dynamic content creation even easier!

The ClaroCom “Pro” USA version is decently priced at 14 bucks and adds a few extra little “nice to haves”. I fell in love with the free version which had its limitations so wound up later buying the pro version for the extra value.

I gave a presentation to Krystal to see if she liked the app or could find some use for it yesterday. She was absolutely in love with it. She downloaded the free version and tested it and has plans to support the developer by buying the pro version next month.

Note 1: the features I fell in love with are the “madlib style” dynamic content creation, the high quality voices, and the ease of use.

Note 2: the “value added features” that made the ClaroCom Pro version all the more attractive were among other things:

  • custom categories: which makes grouping pre-canned messages into categories that make the most sense for me. This also useful so I can have all my stuff specific to say burger king or the call center in it’s own category.
  • bulk-add: the adding of messages to the phrase list was easy, but with bulk-adding I can populate a new category with less effort.
  • Post to facebook or twitter: this handy little feature allows me to post up my Wendy’s order or the text version of any utterance to Facebook or Twitter. Krystal loved that demo because in her words “the less apps I have to keep open the better… if I don’t have to leave my speech screen to do something I do already, even easier!”

so yeah… the Pro version in my eyes is well worth it!

ClaroCom App Store Links

UK

USA