Friday, April 03, 2009

Touch phone in the future to help the visually impaired

Scientists from the University of Tampere, Finland in collaboration with the Stanford University US, have managed to develop a new technology that will bring touchscreen phones to the realm of visually impaired users.

While blind users were bereft of using the cellphone like other folks do, the new technology will create an opportunity for them to actually interact with the mobile phone instead just limiting them to receiving and making calls. The researchers used a Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, which has a piezoelectric material built into the touch screen that vibrates when an electric signal is applied to it.

The researchers tried to represent Braille dots on the device and adopted two methods to do so. For starters, Braille uses a two by three-matrix format to display characters that are identified by different configurations of raised and absent dots at the six points of the matrix. Finally, after integrating the Braille language in the device, volunteers were asked to read things on the phone screen. Although they started off slowly, they were able to speed up gradually and were able to read a character in about 1.25 seconds.

As of now, efforts are being made to present entire words and not just single characters onscreen.


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