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A True Braille Smartphone Is on the Horizon

Braille touch screen smart phone for the blindWhile it seems like smartphones are capable of doing everything but our laundry at this point, they're still not optimized for the visually impaired; even the many apps out there for people with vision loss must work with and around a device that was designed with the sighted in mind. But that's about to change! A new and currently unnamed phone has been specifically designed for use by people with visual impairments. Its design has a screen that is made up of tiny pins that sit beneath the phone’s surface and that morph into Braille whenever the user receives an e-mail or a text message, giving new meaning to the phrase "touchscreen". A technology called Shape Memory Alloy allows the device to expand its pins and then retract them to their original form.

And it isn't just text that the design can reproduce--an important consideration when not every person with low or no vision can read/write Braille. Photos of the phone's prototype have been released showing the device's ability to offer tactile maps and games. It can even show 3D reliefs of photographs!

The idea for the technology was conceived in 2011 by Sumit Dagar, who presented the original prototype in a TED talk. The final product has a projected release of the fourth quarter in 2013, at a $185 price point. Read more about it and check out the slideshow in this CNN article.


Image description: A photograph of a young boy next to a smartphone that has reproduced the photograph as a 3D line drawing
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