Today’s smartphones have a surprising amount of technology built into them to help people do all sorts of things that were otherwise impossible not so long ago. Their brilliant screens are one of their greatest draws, but somewhat surprisingly at first, the technology within can be harnessed and expanded to help blind people navigate, “see” their environment in a new way, and communicate with others. Now Samsung is pushing the boundaries of what smartphones can do for blind people by releasing three new assistive devices that work with their Galaxy Core Advance phones.
The most exciting is perhaps the Ultrasonic Cover that works like a virtual white cane to spot objects ahead of the user. It will vibrate or use text-to-speech (TTS) to notify the user when something is within a couple meters of the cover. We’d have to see whether it detects street curbs, and so whether it would really be practical in real world situations. Nevertheless, the fact is that a smartphone with submarine-like object detection technology is here and it’s here to help blind people get around.
The second tool for the Galaxy Core Advance is the Optical Scan Stand that allows blind people to read, with the help of the Galaxy Core Advance, anything that’s put on the device’s surface. The phone is first placed into the device’s cradle, and, once paper with text is positioned below it, the phone automatically starts reading what’s on the page. There’s no real setup required and no futzing when something needs to be read.
The final product being released are smart Voice Labels that have NFC (near field communication) technology built in. Basically it allows blind folks to stick labels on various things around the house, or anywhere else, that have recorded notes associated with them. Firstly, the labels identify the object they’re stuck on whenever the phone is near, helping blind folks find what they’re looking for. Secondly, the labels can trigger recorded notes that can remind the person which buttons do what on a radio, what’s inside a storage box, and how far to turn a washing machine’s dial to select the right program.
Flashbacks: Ray “Smartphone for the Blind” Features Tactile & Audio Interface…; Blinput Turns Smartphones Into Navigation, Interaction Tools for Blind Persons…; Georgie App Simplifies Life for Blind Android Smartphone Users…; Tactus Redefines Meaning of Touchscreen, Blind Folks Have Reason to Rejoice…; Camera Phone Lends an Eye to Blind…