Meet Georgie, the app enhancing Android phones for blind users

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Friday, 27 July 2012 10:03am

A vision impaired couple from the UK have come up with an app that improves the way blind or vision impaired people use phones. The app for Android smartphones, called Georgie, combines screen reader technology and add-on features that make it easier to use.

Designed by Roger and Margaret Wilson-Hinds, the app comes with core features as well as add-on packs that can be purchased according to user needs. The core features include screen reader and speech-to-text technology. Users can navigate the app menu and receive audio feedback, according to where their fingers are on the screen. Users can also dictate text messages which will then be read out by the screen reader before it is sent to another user.

Other packs that are available to download include the Travel, Lifestyle and Communication packs. On the Travel pack, GPS technology allows users to mark nearby places. In the video posted on Sight, Sound and Technology, Roger Wilson-Hinds explains how he uses Georgie's 'Near Me' feature to alert him to a low-hanging branch. He says he can mark the location of the low-hanging branch using the smartphone's GPS and set 'Near Me' to alert him via voice prompts when he is near so he can avoid continually running into it. 

Users can also customise the colour and contrast of the app's menu so that people who are vision impaired can optimise the smartphone's interface to suit their needs.

Another interesting feature is the Optical Character Recognition which comes with the Communications pack. This feature allows users to take pictures of surrounding objects which are then converted into text information. In the same video, a woman is seen taking a photo of a restaurant menu which is converted into text information and read by the app's screen reader.

The app also comes with an 'Alert Me' feature which is designed to help users receive assistance from an assigned carer. By pushing the 'Alert Me' button, a message is sent to the user's carer telling them their assistance is needed. The GPS will also pick up information about the user's location which will then be sent to the carer.

A trial version of the Georgie app is available to download on Google Play, however it is only currently available to users in the UK.

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