Wireless telecommunications company Qualcomm is developing a smartphone specifically for blind and visually impaired users.
The Android device will combine the numerous communication, navigation, reading and music technologies, which blind people often use separately, into one device.
In collaboration with Project Ray – which designs accessibility tools for around 285 million blind and visually impaired people – Qualcomm is looking to develop this one off Snapdragon-powered device.
An Android app called Georgie, which uses gesture, voice recognition and haptics, has already been developed by a UK couple but requires several add-ons to install the functionality required by the user.
Boaz Zilberman, chief executive of Project Ray, said the user interface presents a “new language for human-device interaction that is built ground-up for eye-free operation”.
Software built-in to the device will allow users to start any process on their mobile by touching any spot on the screen. Finger gestures will then allow them to navigate across the platform and activate their desired function. Haptic vibrations and voice alerts then let users know if they are on the right track and provide further options.
Offering all the usual services of a regular smartphone the clever technology is designed to learn the habits and preferences of the user over time to make their experience swift and natural.
Qualcomm and Project Ray are also working with Israel’s Central Library for The Blind, to include an additional feature offering users access to an impressive catalogue of audio books.
The smartphone is currently being trialled in Israel, with 100 users across the country putting the handset through its paces.