Eyes-Free brings touchscreen enjoyment to the visually impaired!

Friday, April 3, 2009 8:38
Posted in category Android, Google

Touchscreens are the hottest feature currently on mobile phones.  If your phone doesn’t have a touchscreen, it pretty much isn’t worth much, save for the obvious few smartphones such as Blackberry Bold and even a few WinMo HTC handsets.  For people who can actually see, the super shiny, contrasty, and smooth glass screens simply ooze sophistication and high tech.  However not everyone can enjoy the touchscreen phenomenon.  That is until now.

Google engineers T.V. Raman and Charles Chen have developed a piece of software called Eyes-Free that is so simple it’s a wonder someone else didn’t think of this awhile ago.  The software works in a completely different manner than current cellphone software.  Instead of the user having to hunt around on the screen to press a certain button, the software finds the user’s finger wherever said user touches.  According to the New York Times:

Since he cannot precisely hit a button on a touch screen, Mr. Raman created a dialer that works based on relative positions. It interprets any place where he first touches the screen as a 5, the center of a regular telephone dial pad. To dial any other number, he simply slides his finger in its direction — up and to the left for 1, down and to the right for 9, and so on. If he makes a mistake, he can erase a digit simply by shaking the phone, which can detect motion.

So what does this breakthrough app include (specs from GPS Obsessed):

  • Talking Dialer: enables the user one-handed number dialing by providing a talking phonebook.  One tap of a contact on the touchscreen will dial the number
  • Date And Time: provides single-touch access to date and time
  • Device State: announces system features such as battery state, signal strength, as well as the availability of Wi-Fi networks (awesome!)
  • Knowing Your Location: speaks your current location in terms of a nearby address and street intersection found on Google Maps.  It uses GPS, cell tower triangulation, and the built-in compass to find you

Again, such a simple idea that somehow took so long to imagine.  The duo have so far put together a total of 5 videos showing how this revolutionary software works.  In reality the software is comprised of several pieces including a shell that runs on top of Android, a dialer, and a unique method for entering text on screen.

Interested users can pick up the Eyes-Free application(s) in the Android Marketplace.  One piece of info that is interesting to know is that more sighted people are actually using the app compared to visually impaired or blind people.  Why?  It’s quite simple really.  Someone who didn’t neccessarily like how a touchscreen phone requires looking at the screen can now get back a little bit of the ‘ol physical button style phone by not having to focus on the screen for everything that they do.

Source: Gizmodo, NYT, GPS Obsessed

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One Response to “Eyes-Free brings touchscreen enjoyment to the visually impaired!”

  1. Posts about Gizmodo as of April 3, 2009 » The Daily Parr says:

    April 3rd, 2009 at 9:34 am

    [...] : Gizmodo Japan????????????, ?? Eyes-Free brings touchscreen enjoyment to the visually impaired! - gadgetsteria.com 04/03/2009 Touchscreens are the hottest feature currently on mobile phones.  If [...]

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