A company in India is currently working on a prototype smartphone with a touchscreen that uses inset pins to form braille on its surface, so blind users can receive and read email and text messages, according to a Times of India report.
The device is reportedly the first of its kind, and it could potentially turn smartphones into invaluable companions for the blind.
Dagar says, “[t]his product is based on an innovative ‘touch screen’ which is capable of elevating and depressing the contents it receives to transform them into ‘touchable’ patterns.”
From the Times of India:
“The smartphone uses Shape Memory Alloy technology, based on the concept that metals remember their original shapes, i.e. expand and contract to its original shape after use…The phone’s ‘screen’ has a grid of pins, which move up and down as per requirement. The grid has a Braille display, where pins come up to represent a character or letter…This screen will be capable of elevating and depressing the contents to form patterns in Braille.”
Smartphones are already indispensable tools for millions of people, but the true potential of the devices for the blind may just now beginning to be realized. Very few technical details on the device are available at this point. It’s unclear, for example, what mobile OS the device runs or will run or how text entry will work. And the braille smartphone for the blind is still in testing phases, so it may never actually be released. But the idea is a novel one that appears to warrant some more research and development.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.