Even with such tremendous technological advancement we have seen over the last few year, the visually impaired are still not able to fully enjoy the vast possibilities offered by the internet and smartphones. Existing solutions in the form of special equipment and software tend to be extremely expensive. Cheaper alternatives usually don’t serve their purpose, thus pushing this group to the margin of virtual world. This, however, may change in the not so distant future.
Braille phone with a haptic touch screen
An Indian interaction designer, Sumit Dagar, begun his project to release world’s first Braille-enabled smartphone three years ago. Working in cooperation with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad with financial support from Rolex, Dagar appears to have reach a milestone. The prototype of the device could be ready to enter testing phase soon. Depending on the result, the Braille phone may be available as soon as later on this year.
The idea behind a Braille phone is a haptic touch screen, which elevates and depresses its surface to transform the data into touchable patterns. It also employs shape-memory alloy technology to expand and contract to its original shape after use. Hardware-wise the device is built in a totally different manner than your average smartphone. The main mechanism consists of a sophisticated grid of miniature pins that move up and down to create text and images.
The Braille phone will be a device offering all the usual functions found in smartphones these days, including for example maps and games. If Dagar succeeds, his invention will certainly revolutionize the market and will open new paths for the visually impaired to discover the world.