Smartphones are taking us places we couldn’t envision even a couple of years back. Now, they could do the same for the visually impaired. Project RAY is developing a technology along with Qualcomm that could lead to special phones for those who are handicapped by sight. The Project RAY phone is a specially designed interface that is suitable for eye-free operations.
It is significant because a visually challenged person uses an array of devices to interact with the world. It could be a 2G phone for telephony, and then other specialized devices for reading, listening to music, navigating urban areas etc. These are tasks which the rest of the world today gets access to on a single smartphone enabled with apps.
The Project RAY phone is an Android smartphone that’s based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It will have 24/7 mobile broadband connectivity and an interface made for eye-free interaction. The aim is to put together the technology in a cost-effective package. It is currently in trials in Israel.
Boaz Zilberman, chief executive officer of Project RAY says:
“The user touches any position on the screen and that position becomes the starting point for selecting an audio-book, messaging or other activity. Navigation is enabled by a few simple finger movements in different directions. The phone’s built-in vibration capabilities and voice prompts provide user feedback and the UI learns to adapt its behavior based on users’ preferences and usage patterns.”
The phone can handle calls, text messaging with vocal read-out, navigation, object recognition, social network services, remote assistance, audio-book reading, and other leisure and entertainment offerings. Project RAY and Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative could make the world a better place for a large percentage of the world tomorrow.