Chinese tech giant Baidu announces Blind Search device

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Thursday, 11 June 2015 18:24pm

China’s leading search engine provider Baidu has announced the Blind Search device, a tool to assist blind and vision impaired people access “massive amounts of information online through touch” using a combination of tactile and voice-activated commands.

Blind Search facing upward with light emitting from the tactile display. Caption reads 'The device is called Blind Search'

The announcement from Baidu serves to greatly improve web access in China, which comprises 18% of the world’s blind population.

The Blind Search tool provides a dedicated area for typing commands using finger gestures, which are converted to Braille output via a display at the top of the device. Once search terms have been entered, a button at the back of the device can be pressed to display a list of text-based search results.

Images can also be searched and displayed using a “tangible image made from dot positions arranged in rectangles” which the user can interact with via touch, providing audio description as users navigate across different sections of the picture. As Baidu states, the combination of providing tactile imagery with audio description is intended to “help blind people understand [the] search results in a comprehensive stereoscopic way”.

Voice input is also supported, allowing users to press a button at the side of the device to speak search terms aloud, which are then converted into text or image-based results via the tactile display.

A comprehensive list of device features is outlined in a Blind Search announcement video on YouTube [Chinese language audio with Chinese and English captions].

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