Tactile smartphone in development

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Thursday, 2 May 2013 10:53am

The world's first tactile smartphone could be available in stores by the end of the year. Currently in prototype phase, the phone uses a mouldable metal screen which will provide a tactile experience for blind users.

Designed by India-based Sumit Dagar, the braille smartphone uses haptic technology (communication through touch) with a grid of pins that elevate to form shapes, braille characters and buttons on the phone’s mouldable metal alloy coating.

Key features

  • Reading and typing braille: converts text content into raised braille characters and allows the user to type in braille
  • Tactile buttons
  • Haptic maps: users can trace their fingers along a route in order to read directions
  • Tactile scroll bar
  • Audio feedback for actions
  • Scanner: this feature scans text and converts it into braille and scans images to convert them into a raised pattern. In a TED Talk, Dagar explains that this can be used to communicate the facial expressions of callers during video chat.
  • The pins raise at different heights to communicate different types of information, such as non-editable text, editable text and buttons
  • Support for multiple languages.

While many smartphones have inbuilt screen reader technology that provides an audible way for blind users to access content, a dedicated braille smartphone offers an experience specifically tailored to the blind user.

The braille smartphone prototype is currently being tested at the LV Prasad Eye Institute and is expected to be released at the end of the year at an estimated cost of $US185.

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