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Nokia Creates Vibrating Braille Solution

Saturday, October 3, 2009 View Comments

Nokia has developed a  new possible solution for anyone who cannot read text on a mobile phone screen, that is blind people. This was done by implementing a new system of reading braille on a touchscreen handset. The Nokia Braille Reader, still in beta version, utilizes the Braille alphabet while leveraging tactile feedback in mobile phones.

This advance  technology is a product of a joint venture, between Nokia, Tampere University and the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired. The Nokia Braille Reader was encoraged by a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandate of wireless organizations to provide at least one device that supports the needs of blind or people with cognitive or mobility disabilities.

According to Nokia Company, the technology is compatible with its S60 handsets, including the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic :) , Nokia N97, Nokia N97 mini, Nokia 5530, Nokia 5230 and Nokia X6.[1]

The mobile phone as a communication tool is pretty universal when it comes to voice calls, but phones are just as popular for sending text messages as they are for chatting with each other. That is a problem for one set of users who are either partially sighted or completely blind. Nokia has now come up with a possible solution for anyone who cannot read text on a screen by implementing a new system of reading braille on a touchscreen phone.

The Nokia Braille Reader Application (NBRA) has been developed at Nokia Beta Labs. Each text message is fed into the NBRA and the characters converted into braille. Then each character is read out to the user using the vibrating facility of the phone. As braille is a series of raised dots each character can be communicated by changing the vibration to depict raised or not with a whole sequence allowing the user to figure out which character it is. After a short time of using NBRA it should become easy for the user to understand quickly what the characters are based on the vibrations being emitted.
Playback of the text message is only done when a finger is touching the screen which allows the user to pause at any time by lifting their finger off the screen. Large buttons have also been placed in set areas on the screen for different functionality like entering and exiting NBRA; making it easier for the user to navigate to and from the app. Best of all it is totally free to download and use and is compatible with phones based on S60 5th edition such as the N97, N97 mini, 5800 XpressMusic, 5530, 5230, and X6 handsets.

Matthew’s Opinion
There are already solutions for the blind that allow text messages to be read out, but that is not always going to be ideal. Maybe the text message contains information you would rather not share with those around you, and it’s not always possible to wear headphones tolisten to messages. Nokia’s solution is very discreet as it is completely silent.
The one drawback of such a system is how much of a battery drain it may be. Vibrating the phone a lot is going to sap your battery quite quickly, but I don’t know how it compares to reading out texts in terms of which one uses more juice. I’m sure you are still going to get a day’s use out of your Nokia handset though, even if you are texting a lot.
I also wonder if the system could be reversed allowing users to write texts using this vibrating braille system. If different taps on the screen can set the vibration feedback then it could be quite easy to achieve.

Nokia Braille Reader gives SMS for the blind and visually impaired. It captures received SMS messages and brings them to the foreground for reading using Braille and tactile feedback.

From, Geek

A video about the Braille technology, from Nokia Business Development

In my opinion, the advent of Nokia Braille Reader, an experimental application that gives SMS for the visually impaired is a great idea developed by Nokia and Associates. It captures received SMS messages and brings them to the foreground for reading using Braille and tactile feedback. I personally believe that this innovation shall bridge the gap between people having vision problems and the so-called " normal " people. I look forward that in the near future, I come across a "Blind Programmer". I shall expect that D-Day with great anticipation ! Long Live Nokia though I don't have a Nokia mobile !  :)

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