[tabi] Fwd: Article: Braille texting app could have broader appeal

  • From: Lighthouse of the Big Bend <lighthousebigbend@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tabi <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, fcb-l <fcb-l@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2012 14:41:53 -0500

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Braille texting app could have broader appeal

by Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
February 18, 2012 10:40 AM PST

Designed for the visually impaired, an open-source app out of Georgia Tech
could prove to be a texting tool for the masses. Most of us have at least
tried to text without looking at our phones before. I confess to having shot
off a quick message while stopped at a red light, or immediately following
crazy goals and tackles at soccer matches, or even from the confines of my
pocket at parties.

The prototype app BrailleTouch is currently undergoing usability studies.
(Credit: Georgia Tech)

Now a free, open-source app called BrailleTouch
<http://www.gregoryabowd.com/research/projects/brailletouch>  is about to
make this form of multitasking that much easier--for the visually impaired
and sighted alike. Designed at Georgia Tech, the app incorporates
<http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-02/giot-gtd021712.php>  the
Braille writing system into a touch-screen device. It essentially turns
aniPhone <http://reviews.cnet.com/iphone/> 's touch screen into a soft-touch
keyboard programmed for Braille, thus requiring only six keys, that converts
gestures into input points. By using the six-key Braille configuration, the
keyboard actually fits on the touch screen, allowing users to hold their
devices with their palms, thumbs, or pinkies while the screens face away
from them.

"BrailleTouch is an out-of-the-box solution that will work with smartphones
andtablets <http://reviews.cnet.com/tablets/>  and allow users to start
learning the Braille alphabet in a few minutes," Mario Romero
<http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~mromero/> , the project's principal investigator,
said in a news release. "It also reduces the need for expensive proprietary
Braille keyboard devices, which typically cost thousands of dollars."

A few like-minded concepts are popping up, including the similar (but $4.99)
<http://itunes.apple.com/th/app/typeinbraille/id474798075?mt=8>  app just
released by EveryWare Technologies and an
to-braille/>  8-key version developed by students at Stanford that follows
the location of the user's fingers.

Whether the masses will take the time to learn to type the Braille alphabet
(Romero says they don't have to learn to read it, and that people can learn
to type it in a matter of minutes) remains to be seen, but those who do may
eventually find that they are able to type up to 32 words per minute with 92
percent accuracy, according to early studies with visually impaired
participants proficient in Braille typing.

The app has already won the MobileHCI 2011 competition
<http://www.gvu.gatech.edu/node/5320>  for design in Stockholm, in the fall
of 2011. The Georgia Tech team has developed iPhone and iPad versions of
BrailleTouch and saysAndroid <http://www.cnet.com/android-atlas/>  versions
are next. BrailleTouch is currently being demonstrated at the Abilities
Expo-Atlanta 2012 this weekend.

Read more:

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIEO1bUFHsI

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