BrailleTouch app brings blind typing to the touchscreen

In an app coming to the market relatively soon for both iPhone and Android, Georgia Tech researchers have reduced the price of realistically typing Braille on a smartphone from $1700 plus the cost of the phone to essentially free. The $1700 is a basic figure which spoken by Post Doctorate Fellow Mario Romero of the School of Interactive Computing working on the project and mentioning how much a smartphone-connected Braille keyboard costs on average. What the app BrailleTouch will be doing is offering the same functionality with a set of simple gestures and 6 buttons on-screen that allow for accurate and simple typing of Braille characters.

This app was created for touchscreen interfaces in a world where a blind person's ability to see through touching has been rapidly reduced by the oncoming storm of the flat, buttonless display. What you'll see in the video here in this post is Romero demonstrating the application on an iPhone plus a bit of an explanation for why it needs to exist. Have a peek at the simplicity here:

The app will be offered up for free and will be open-source eventually so that people can take and modify it for their own needs. As Caleb Southern from the School of Interactive Computing notes:

"We are currently designing a study to formally evaluate BrailleTouch through both quantitative and qualitative methods. We will measure the typing speed and accuracy of visually impaired users and capture the feedback from study participants in areas such as comfort, ease of use and perceived value." – Southern

BrailleTouch has recently won the MobileHCI 2011 competition for design at the MobileHCI conference in Stockholm, Sweden, and took part in Abilities Expo-Atlanta 2012 with a live working beta-version of the app. The iPhone version is ready to go, as is the iPad version (not pictured here) and the team is currently in the process of creating the Android version as we sit and wait with great anticipation!

[via Georgia Tech]