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Touchscreen activated virtual Braille writer innovation helps visually impaired and blind people

by Rus Abz 2011-10-17 12:56



Touchscreen Braille WriterTouchscreen displays not only provide a superior user experience for key tasks but free-up space on the device for a larger display. Extra pair of square inch can make a new dimension to the world in mobile user palm. With more surface for the tip of the fingers to slide upon the freedom of zooming up the capabilities of the larger screen smarphone makes huge difference. It opens the whole new range of activities that mobile user could perform more comfortably on the same palm size device. Larger  colorful touch screens are easy to read such that it fits the four-times the detail of a standard GPS navigator handheld device, and the high sensitivity helps easy finger-zoom the GPS map to your current GPS position, points of interest, route and estimated time to arrival. The advances in GPS navigator and topographic mapping capabilities of mobile phone devices are just one example of seamless integration capacity of useful technology, such as GPS navigator, with a smartphone. The latest in touchscreen technology let mobile and tablet platform innovators build the virtual application for blind and visually impaired people, such that they can use touchscreen tablet or smarphone as a virtual Braille writer device.

In the tablet and cell phone technology two major categories of touchscreen displays found their way to the market, capacitive touchscreens and resistive touchscreens. The True Flat Resistive and Projective Capacitive Touch technologies are dominating the touchscreen devices for international mobile user, and point of sale, the EPoS devices in the retail, leisure and hospitality markets. Capacitive touchscreen are favorable for displays as they rely on the electrical properties of the human fingertips. Capacitive touch technology detects when and where on a smart display the user is touching. Capacitive smart displays do need any mechanical stylus and can be controlled with an extremely light fingers touches, Apple's iPhone is most popular example of a device with capacitive touchscreen. Generally smartphone industry estimates market of handheld devices with a touchscreen-only interface to get close to one billion per annum by year 2017.

Touchscreen InnovationFor the personal assistant device user the lack of tactile feedback makes typing on a touchscreen difficult. Special touch-response software application embedded into the tablet or smartphone touchscreen operating platform helps by providing visual zoom feedback of the area just touched. For blind and visually impaired people the touchscreen management software could recognize the touch pattern of the user's fingertips to create the Braille virtual keyboard where the visually impaired person put her or his fingers on the surface of the touchscreen. The blind person does not need to find the virtual keys of the keyboard, the dynamically generated sensoric areas representing the keys are finding the touch prints of the fingertips right where they are. A standard eight-key Braille keyboard for visually impaired and blind user knows to appear wherever the user places her or his fingers on the touchscreen. Once the user sets eight fingers on the device, the virtually generated optimized keys align underneath each of the user’s fingers. The Braille self adjustable touchscreen also can activate screen-to-voice real time interface with synthesized voice spoken feedback. The voice application reads each letter outloud, or can read in voice a sequence of letters while they are typed on Braille virtual application keyboard. 

If the visually impaired user gets distracted, or takes fingers off the keyboard to perform some other tasks, she or he could re-establish the keyboard layout with a quick "train-the-keyboard" touch by lifting and re-applying palms of hands over the smart screen. The innovation allows the user avoid locating the keys, the user just start typing Braille code and the virtual keyboard self-adjusts to the user fingertips touch of the touchscreen. Virtual keyboard customizes itself to the user's touch pattern, adjusting the real time generated onscreen keys properties based on the user’s finger size and spacing. Braille code method uses combinations of the virtual keys which are used to type letters, numbers, special characters and symbols specific to a variety of specialized keyboard layouts, like math or chemical formula. Braille typing method traditionally relied on expensive dedicated input devices which cost thousands dollars. Using tablet or smartphone touchscreen with smart self adjustable virtual Braille keyboard could cut costs and allow more visually impaired and blind people to use their personal communicator or personal assistant smartphone in place of expensive specialized Braille input devices for a fraction of price. Modern smartphones, Android as just one example, offer application development capability to soon implement virtual Braille keyboard for daily use by visually impaired and blind people on their lower cost personal assistant mobile devices.  

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