A smartphone and apps for the visually impaired was more like a science fiction before, but now the situation has changed. Sumit Dagar, An interaction designer who makes sci-fi short films has invested three years of his life in developing he world’s first Braille-enabled smartphone . It’s expected that if the testing goes well, then these phones will soon reach stores by the end of 2013.
There are already many apps for visually impaired, but most of them involve audio cues. This is the first of it’s kind to include braille.
Sumit Dagar in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad developed a prototype that turns apps and text into braille. This smartphone comes with a touchscreen that elevates and depresses the content it receives, thereby converting the data into touchable patterns.
Sumit Dagar has mentioned in his website that the phone will use braille as the primary mode of interaction, but even incorporate voice feedback. Braille can be also used for navigation and menus. The inventor says that the initial response was really immense as this smartphone acts more like a companion rather than a phone for the user. He even mentioned that their team is planning to create more advanced versions of the phone in the future.
Technology is giving everyone superpowers, but many blind people are not able to tap into these cool, new features, and the technology is making them even more disabled,” Sumit mentioned in a Rolex interview. “So I decided to do something that could reach out to this population.”
Another great fact about this phone is that during a video chat, a visually impaired user can touch the real-time image of a friend’s face and follow that person’s facial expressions. It even help the users to interpret maps, play games. It is also packed with other features that usually come with other smartphones.
The hardware of this phone comes with an advanced grid of tiny pins that move up and down to accommodate text and images. This smartphone uses a shape-memory alloy technology based on the concept that the metals remember their original shapes to expand or contract to its original shape soon after the use.
The prototype is presently being tested out at the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad and receiving successful results that will definitely transform the touchscreen experience of a visually impaired user. Take a look at the following video to know more about this special smartphone.