Apps for the visually impaired abound, but they’re chained to conventional smartphones, which rely heavily on visual cues. Until now.
Inventors at the Center for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship in Ahmedabad, India, have created a prototype that turns apps and text into braille.
The Times of India reported the braille smartphone — the first of its kind in the world — uses a grid of pins that can elevate and depress to display braille. In every other way, the prototype is just like any other smartphone.
The phone’s creators hope it will be available by the end of the year and predict it will cost about $185, Popsci reported.
The phone’s lead inventor, Sumit Dagar, said he was inspired when he realized that most smartphones cater only to the mainstream.
On his website, he says the phone would use braille as the primary mode of interaction, but also incorporate voice feedback. Braille would be used for navigation and menus, though.
“The response during the test has been immense,” he told the Times. “It comes out as a companion more than a phone to the user. We plan to do more advanced versions of the phone in the future.”
There are already apps out there for the visually impaired, but most of these involve audio cues and not braille.
LookTel uses a smartphone’s camera to announce the denomination of paper money, which can be confusing since a $1 bill feels no different than a $100 bill. Color ID also uses the camera feature, this time to announce the color of various objects — such as clothing and makeup.
Urbanspoon, an app for finding restaurants, has a VoiceOver version for the visually impaired.