Company offers first true smartphone for the blind (w/ Video)

Jul 16, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org) -- British company Screenreader, has created what it calls the first true smartphone for the blind and those with vision impairments. While it’s not actually a new smartphone, it’s more a suite of apps that turn a conventional phone running Android into a new way to use the phone, it is a giant step forward for the visually impaired who have been left behind by the move from pushbutton phones to those that use touch screens. Instead of the usual mass of icons, the Georgie, as the company calls it, comes with a simple menu that offers auditory feedback and features that are important and useful to those who cannot see.

Developed by married couple Roger and Margaret Wilson-Hinds, who have also created talking computer applications for the blind, the Georgie takes what they’ve learned about computer applications and takes it on the road, providing real world useful applications such as telling the user which direction they are facing, or where the nearest bus stop is. The menus can be easily traversed by simply running the fingers across them, a voice calls out their function; settling on a menu option for an extra moment causes that function to launch. In like manner, calls can be placed by moving fingers over numbered buttons. The system has been thoroughly tested by the couple themselves, who are both blind (the name Georgie came from one of their guide dogs) and a group of other blind or visually impaired people.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Georgie can be purchased as a set of apps for those that already have a phone, or as a complete system, i.e. phones with preinstalled apps. It’s being distributed by Sight and Sound Technologies. It comes with a single basic app that allows for performing functions such as dialing and voice dictation and has useful features such as “Places” that announce direction and can be loaded with known hazards such as low hanging tree branches or potholes. Users that wish to add functionality have three different apps packages to choose from. For those out and about a lot, there is a “Travelers” app that features “Near Me,” which calls out place names such as restaurants, bus stops, stores, etc. along with weather reports. Another package called “Lifestyle” offers an ability to listen to newspaper and magazine articles or even whole books (while on the bus for example). The third app, called “Communicate” helps users connect socially by helping them record, translate to text and then send twitter or text messages.

All of this comes at a cost of course, with different pricing for different features. The basic app costs $230 and each add-on adds an additional $39. Most would consider this quite cheap however, as other systems total in the thousands and aren’t nearly as mobile.

Explore further: Samsung debuts new Nook tablet with larger screen

More information: www.screenreader.net/

Related Stories

WalkSafe app shields smartphone pedestrians (w/ video)

Nov 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Smartphone users who as pedestrians are not very smart about crossing and looking both ways now have a protective shield in the form of an Android app which they can download for free. A research ...

Recommended for you

Review: Better cameras, less glare in iPad Air 2

22 hours ago

If I've seen you taking photos with a tablet computer, I've probably made fun of you (though maybe not to your face, depending on how big you are). I'm old school: I much prefer looking through the viewfinder ...

Samsung phones cleared for US government use

Oct 21, 2014

Samsung Electronics Co. said Tuesday some of its Galaxy mobile devices were approved by the National Security Agency for use with classified U.S. government networks and data, a boost to the company's efforts to expand in ...

Review: Apple Pay in action

Oct 21, 2014

If there ever comes a day I can ditch my wallet and use my phone to pay for everything, I'll look back to my first purchase through Apple Pay: a Big Mac and medium fries for $5.44. That wallet-free day won't ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Eikka
not rated yet Jul 16, 2012
he basic app costs $230 and each add-on adds an additional $39.


That's not cheap - especially for a mobile phone app.

If you want to make money out of the disabled, never design something they need be cheap. You get much more money if you price it above what would be reasonable, because the government will provide it anyways through social aid, medical aid, or some other charity or social benefit.

And when the government is buying, the price doesn't matter because nobody in the government has any idea what anything should cost. It's like the NHS buying physotherapic balance boards for something like £32,000 each, which were nothing more than glorified Wii-fit boards.
Bowler_4007
not rated yet Jul 22, 2012
i have an aunty who is registered blind, and she can't get much funding for buying usefull things like this, this couple might have done a good job in creating these apps but knowing the needs of others like themselves they should understand why its unreasonable to charge such a high price regardless of how difficult the software was to make