SARA, Sail and Race audioguide, is an application designed to provide navigation information using voice synthesis during a sailing race. Although designed by and for blind sailors, SARA respects the principle of design for all and proves to be quite useful for sighted people when their eyes have too many things to look after.
SARA allows to get information concerning direction and speed. When a route is activated, It also allows to get bearing, distance and CMG to the next mark. We remind that CMG (course make good) is the projected speed on a direct route, which determines the best tack to make to reach the next mark.
Although all the information is accessible manually using voice over or just watching the screen, the goal of SARA is to announce the information when the sailor needs it. For each information it’s possible to set automatic announcements. For example, if the course announcement is set each 10 degrees, the information will be given when it turns from 250 to 260 degrees but there will be no information while the course is maintained between 251 and 269 degrees. Each information can also be set according to a minimum time of repetition in order to hear SARA only when you wish to. For instance, if the minimum repetition time is set to 10 seconds, SARA will give you the information at the beginning of the tacking and then 10 seconds later, even if the course has varied by 90 degrees during the manoeuvre. In this way the sailor is informed but can keep the most important thing in mind: listen to the wind!
Once the positions of the marks have been either plotted out or entered into the system and once the route has been activated, the information is announced at reasonable intervals. The information gives the distance and orientation of the starting line. Then each time you pass a line, a mark or a door, this will entail an automatic activation of the following mark. Thus you can follow your exact position during a regatta. Who said we had to see clearly for racing?
Next developments will concern speech recognition, subscription to the course via internet and management of collisions with other vessels.