The smartphone revolution has brought a lot of comfort and convenience to practically everyone’s fingertips. Looking for information, reading books, communicating with loved ones in not one but many ways, and even performing “real work” using a phone has become a way of life for us. Thanks to all the phone manufacturers and their dedication towards accessibility, blind and visually impaired users have had great success with smartphones.
However, the regular smartphone can be quite overwhelming for the average visually impaired user. The touch screen on a smartphone, which is the most essential component of the device, just doesn’t have enough tactile clues to help a blind user navigate the menus. Voice commands work pretty well, but can still be frustrating to many. Also, for users who are not so tech savvy, less is more, and they desire something that’s not too complicated.
, an Israeli startup, has developed a phone that is specially designed keeping blind people in mind. The interface of the phone is robust, yet very simple, and makes most sense for people who are visually impaired. The touch screen consists of five to twelve icons or buttons, depending on where the user is in the navigation area. Every icon has a designated app. The user just needs to move their finger
in a specific direction to open the app designated for that icon. Although the icons are laid out in the center of the screen, users don’t necessarily have to “press” the displayed icon in order to open an app. Placing a finger anywhere on the screen enables the interface and the icon layout, and from that very location the user can move their fingers in any direction to open the desired app. The screen tracks the direction of the finger and does not require that an icon be clicked. Thanks to tactile feedback and voice commands, the user would know that their touch has been recognized and the required action would be performed.
The interface has been kept simple and minimal, yet all required functionalities have been provided. Navigating through multiple pages of apps is a breeze. Of course, the phone provides pretty much all standard features and applications that a regular smartphone has (favorites, full call logs, telephony, alarm clock, radio, voice recorder, calendar etc.). The in built camera also has currency recognition
that can scan money bills and tell the user if it is a $5 or $100 bill. For people who like to read, audio books are available from the Library of Congress, Amazon, and others.
Project Ray has three models available that can be bought directly from their website, Amazon, and Odinmobile. There is also an Android simulator that can be downloaded from here if you want to see how it works.
Watch this demo video to see how easy it is to navigate the clutter free interface. A little bit of practice would make any user comfortable and using it on a daily basis would become a way of life.
There are more quick training videos on their Youtube channel.
Watch this video to see how others are using this phone.