Concept Braille Smartphone could mean a bright future for the visually impaired

Provided by Kevin C. Tofel

While the concept of the Braille Smartphone is just that, a concept, the idea is too exciting not to blog about.  A man named Sumit Dagar, a designer out of India, has come up with a smartphone that has all of the same functions and apps as the iPhone or Android, but it is completely Braille.  Dagar highlights the fact that when one of our senses is weak or missing, the other senses become stronger to compensate.  The idea behind the concept Braille phone is that the phone will sense what the user wants to do, by a simple touch, whether it is sending an SMS message, receiving a picture or reading a newspaper. 

Dagar’s concept phone takes functions already available and translates them into Braille, a multi-lingual medium to communicate.  The phone would not have to be modified for other languages because Braille can do it all, the individual would just use whatever Braille language they know, to operate the phone.  The tactile nature of the phone allows for the user to receive pictures, play games and use maps, just like a normal smart phone.

There is currently a Braille product on the market that uses similar technology, the BrailleNote Pk that has the ability to wirelessly connect to a mobile device, printer or keyboard to translate the information into Braille.  The device gives you access to the following features:

  • Word Processing: Create, edit and store documents, convert them to Braille or a range of mainstream text formats including Microsoft Word, print or emboss any document, translate between Braille and text
  • Bluetooth & WiFi: Connet to the internet via WiFi or a Bluetooth cellphone. Access your wireless network and share files, surf the web, download emails and use Bluetooth to connect with a wireless QWERTY keyboard, sync wirelessly with your PC or print. * WiFi connectivity via optional CompactFlash card
  • Enhanced Media Player: Listen to a wide range of audio formats including MP3, Windows Media and AV. Put them all together in a playlist for continuous listening. Listen to audio books, internet radio or music while emailing, surfing the web or reading. Play and pause audio even when you’re not in the Media Player.
  • Voice Memos: Use the built-in microphone or an external microphone of your choice to make voice recordings. Play back the last memo you recorded from anywhere in KeySoft with a single key press.
  • Web Brower: Surf the net – do research, online shopping, banking and research via a dial-up (including Bluetooth mobile), wireless or Ethernet network.
  • E-Mail: Send and receive emails with attachments, store addresses, create folders. Supports standard POP3 e-mail services
  • Daily Planner: Schedule single or reccuring appointments and set reminder alarms and synchronise with MS Outlook’s Calendar
  • Address List: Store and organize your contact information, look up an address quickly and simply, paste it into a document or email, synchronize with MS Outlook’s Contacts. 
  • Book Reader: Read e-books in standard Braille or text format, in any grade of Braille you choose
  • Stopwatch: Keeps track of time passing while you do other tasks
  • Scientific Calculator: Make complex mathematical calculations, insert the answer into an email or document
  • Visual Display: Connect to a video display for real-time translation and viewing by sighted observers, peers or teachers
  • On-line help: Context sensitive help and fully indexed user guide are available at the touch of a key, and…
  • Activesync: Enables you to connect your PC to share or synchronize files

Until Dagar’s concept phone becomes reality, which is hopefully soon, the BrailleNote PK is a nice alternative and a step in a bright future for the visually impaired and blind.