TV/iPhone: Remote control media playback for the Blind.

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by elister, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. elister macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2010
    My friend is seriously thinking about switching from a Nokia phone to an iPhone. In the past, I had talked about setting up a WDTV Live media player and let him control it via a Web App in Windows using a text to speech programing known as JAWS. But JAWS doesnt some programing languages, so he cannot navigate using XBMC or WDTV apps.

    After several attempts to get my desktop to control the WDTV Media player, via JAWS, I give up and will consider another option, but I would like to confirm this works. I also have some other blind friends who would also like to know

    Can you get the iPhone to control Apple TV media playback, using the text to speech accessibility option thats built into the iPhone? Obviously I wouldnt be using AppleTV out of the box, that some firmware hacking is needed for XViD, MPEG and other file formats.

    Streaming to audio/video files to his iPhone is one thing, but using it as a remote control is what he needs and I think he would need a slightly modified Apple TV to do that properly.
  2. elister thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2010

    The irony is that when I do a google search about media playback for the blind, it points to this very thread.
  3. LaNex macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2010

    In part, yes, you can do this - with restrictions.

    I am severely sight impaired and so is my fiance. We use the Apple remote app (which is fully voiceover compatible) on our 3gs's to control our Apple TV. However - it only acts as if it were controlling itunes, so other media formats cannot be played like this, - if it ain't in your itunes library, it ain't there. So you can't control the youtube part of the ATV, or pictures - just media. Basically the Remote app sees the ATV as another instance of itunes.
    I have dabbled with some web remotes for xbmc on the (in my case hacked) ATV to try and get blind friendly access to other formats without having to convert, but the web remotes I've tried are woeful and just don't work reliably in my experience.

    However I may have another option for you. I run Plex on my mac mini and use an iPhone remote app called MediaHound. It is fully voiceover compatible on the 3gs and 95 percent of the plugins that you can get for Plex work with it (like the bbc iplayer, cnet, stuff like that). Obviously Plex does other media formats that itunes doesn't. Sadly Plex can't run on an Apple TV unless you can get Leopard onto it (I don't know if it is possible personally, I've never looked it up - I'd be interested to find out though.)

    So from my experience, you either got to convert all your media into itunes friendly formats if you want to use an apple TV in a blind friendly way with Apple's Remote app as the control (we do this for the bedroom media setup), or choose a traditional intel mac and run Plex if you don't want to convert, and use MediaHound for the accessible control part (we do this for the plasma tv in the lounge).

    I hope this gives you some ideas for your friend.
  4. elister thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2010
    Ok, so my friend buys a new iPhone, installs Media Hound (which is an app for the iPhone). Buys a Mac Mini and install Plex. Media Hound not only is going to allow for playback of most media files, but also controls playback on the Mac Mini. All off his existing WiFi router.

    I'll do some research on this, thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I dont own any Apple products, but my fiancee has a Mac Book. When he gets the iPhone, I'll setup the software and have him stop by to give it a test.

    Also, will Plex load up automatically on the Mac Mini, or is it something he needs to manually load up each time he boots into the desktop?
  5. LaNex macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2010
    Ok - to check your list, you want MediaHound on the iphone 3gs. There is a thread at the Plex forums that discusses it (I am Rachael Andrews on that forum fwiw). The Plex forum can answer pretty much any question about anything to do with Plex you might need to know, too.

    MediaHound only controls Plex on the mac - it doesn't stream media files to the iphone. If you want to do that you need something like Orb - (a server which runs on the mac, and an app for the iphone - also accessible with the 3gs text to speech screen reader).

    You can get Plex to load up automatically if you add it to the mac's login items. Here's a thread (a short one ;) ) explaining how

    This will work all with his existing wifi router, an iphone 3gs, and any intel mac, yep.

  6. elister thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2010
  7. LaNex macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2010
    No problem. :cool:

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