Transcript: The first talking set-top box available in Australia

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Roberta: With us today is Chris Mikul, Project Manager of Media Access Australia and Chris is going to tell us about an exciting new product called, The Bush Talking Set-top Box.  Welcome Chris.

Chris: Hello Roberta.

Roberta: That sounds like something maybe from way, way, way back doesn’t it? The Bush Talking Set top box – so tell me, what is it?

Chris: Well, no, it’s not something from way back. It’s something that’s very new and it is indeed very exciting. Well, essentially it’s a digital set top box, so like all of those it will turn your old analogue TV into a digital TV, but the important thing about it is that it’s a talking set top box and it’s only the second talking set top box on sale in the world! 

This one, being one that went on sale in the UK last year, so what I mean by talking is it has a synthesised voice in it which speaks out all of the on-screen text that’s part of the functionality of the set top box, so all of the set up stuff and all the menus and all of that sort of thing.

It also speaks the program information for the program that you’re watching and for other programs and it speaks out all of the electronic program guide and it also has audio description functionality so when we do get an audio description service on Australian TV, which we will get one day don’t worry and I think it’s coming soon, then it will also pick up the audio description.

Roberta: Chris, how is it activated?

Chris: We’ve actually, thanks to Bush manufacture, we’ve got a couple of them. We got the proto-types a few weeks ago. It’s very easy to set up. Like, most boxes you basically, you get it out of the box it comes in, you plug it in between your antennae and your TV, you turn it on and the first thing it does is ask if you want the audio speaking option. You turn that on and then that just remains on forever and then as you do the set-up process it will speak out everything that’s on the screen.

So, for example, if people have set up set top boxes, the first thing you basically do is you do a search which means that it searches for all the TV channels and radio channels in your area, so as it’s doing the searching it keeps you up to date with how that’s gong. So, it will say you know, search twenty percent complete, we found x number of channels and so on.

That only takes probably about five minutes if that, then it’s on and it’s ready to go and the way you work it is if you turn it on, you hit the info button and it’s got quite a nice well-designed remote control as well that’s quite easy to use, hit the info button and it will tell you what program you’re watching, what channel you’re on, when it started and when it finished. You hit one of the arrow buttons, it will tell you what the next program is and then you can also go into the program guide and go through that and it tells you all the programs that are coming up and describes them for you, so it’s pretty dam nifty I’ve got to say.

Roberta: It sounds as though you know it pretty well. Have you used the box yourself?

Chris: Yeah, yeah, we got one oh, a few weeks ago and I’ve been playing with it ever since and I’ve been making it do all sorts of things and it hasn’t stuffed up at all. The synthesised voice it’s even got an Australian accent. Occasionally it will struggle over a word but it’s actually a pretty good sounding one. So, yeah I think it’s going to really please a lot of people.

Roberta: Now, if people wanted to buy one, where could they get it?

Chris: Okay, well the manufacture is Bush, so that’s Bush Australia. It will be on sale in Vision Australia stores. Also, if people want to go onto the Bush website, you can order it online or over the website or there are a few electronics stores that it’ll be available in as well so, they’re listed on the website too.

Roberta: Just quickly, any idea how much it is?

Chris: Yes, it retails for a hundred and ninety-nine dollars.

Roberta: That’s good.

Chris: Which is sort of on the upper end of the scale for a set-top box, but um.

Roberta: What it does is worth it.

Chris: Yes, what it does is amazing and as I say, being only the second one in the world that does it, I think it’s going to be a really popular product.

Roberta: Oh, that’s really good news. Now, if you want to know more about accessible technology, Media Access Australia have a website- and you can also contact them at or phone 02 92126242.  Thank you Chris.

Chris: Thanks.

Roberta: We’ve been with Chris Mikul, Project Manager of Media Access Australia, and Media Access Australia are supporters of this program.                     

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