World’s First Braille Smartphone

World’s First Braille Smartphone

Mobile technology has advanced so rapidly within such a short space of time, propelling us into an exciting future once dreamed of by science fiction writers (think flying cars, holograms etc). Though we find ourselves in a time where new technologies are popping up here, there and everywhere, striving to make our lives increasingly easier, the one space in which mobile technology could bring a real change has only recently seen great leaps.

Mobile technology heavily depends on sight, sound and touch to interact and help people, which has unintentionally excluded those with sight or hearing disabilities from experiencing its wonders. It has the potential to help, but till now has been underutilised. However, this looks set to be changed, with developments into a Braille smartphone for the blind and an iPad app to teach Auslan promising to bring the almost endless possibilities of mobile to those with hearing and sight impairments.

Braille Smartphone

BrailleSmartphoneOriginally reported in the Times Of India, technology startup Kriyate Design Solutions has created the “world’s first Braille smartphone” as stated by its creator, Sumit Dagar.

The prototype features an innovative touch screen, which converts text and pictures into Braille and raised patterns. The touchscreen uses Shape Memory Alloy technology, which is utilised based on the concept that metals remember their original shape i.e. they expand and contract to its original shape after use. The phone’s screen has a grid of pins, which move up and down as per required, which represent a character or letter in the Braille display.

Smartphones are already indispensable tools for millions of people, but the true potential of the devices for the blind may just now beginning to be realized. Once the prototype (developed in conjunction with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi) is turned into an actual product, the demand may be just high enough to potentially create a brand new mobile segment.

While there is limited information in regards to technical details such as mobile OS or how text entry will work, what is certain is that if the device is completed and released into the market, it will become an invaluable companion to those with a sight disability.

iPad Bringing Help To Hearing Impaired

BH8Gu3vCcAATv3dThe workforce relies heavily upon being able to communicate effectively, which presents a fairly big challenge for the hearing impaired.

However, much like the first Braille Smartphone, a new iPad app is opening up a whole new world of opportunities. Developed by the Australian Communications Exchange on a grant provided by the Australian Centre for Social Innovation, the app is letting patrons at a St Kilda Road cafe brush up on their Auslan.

The Tradeblock Cafe staffed by year 11 and 12 students from the Victorian College for the Deaf, was started by teacher Amanda Joyce in 2009 after a visit to a restaurant run by a deaf family in Vietnam. The app allows customers to build a sentence by selecting phrases by venue category, and then watch a short video of an Auslan interpreter signing their order before they place it themselves. To ensure the order isn’t mixed up, the video plays simultaneously on the staff member’s device.

The app is available for download from the app store.

This opens up a world of opportunity for the hearing impaired to enter the workforce, by allowing them to communicate effectively with customers and of course vice versa.

Do you know of any other ways mobile technology is helping those with impairments?