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New app allows sightless texting for visually impaired

New app allows sightless texting for visually impaired

By Alex Larrabee | Posted - Feb. 24, 2012 at 4:50 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A team of designers from Georgia Tech, led by Post Doctorate Fellow Mario Romero, have developed an app that will allow those with a visual impairment to continue texting and typing on their touchscreen mobile phones.

The app, called BrailleTouch, utilizes a familiar concept to the visually impaired in the form of Braille writing. Users hold the phone in landscape view facing away from them, and use their fingers to tap six dots, three on each side.

These dots represent the dots used in writing Braille; placement of the user's fingers on the corresponding dots indicates raising those dots, which creates a different text entry for each combination.

Visually impaired test subjects using the application on an iPhone were reportedly able to type at up to 32 words per minute at a 92 percent accuracy rate. According to reports, this speed is "considerably faster" than speeds achieved with other sightless text input devices.

A video on Youtube featuring Romero showcases the application in action.

"If you know how to type Braille, you can start using [it]... without any training and start typing faster than most people type on a QWERTY keyboard," Romero said during the display.

However, Romero is quick to point out that this is not a solution to texting while driving.

"There are cognitive centers in the brain that would be overloaded if you were doing the two tasks at once," Romero said. "That's like trying to invent a pill for drinking and driving - it's just not a good idea."

Image Credit: Georgia Tech

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Alex Larrabee

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