Qualcomm and Project RAY Announce the Development of an Eye-Free Mobile Device to Facilitate Daily Life for Blind and Visually Impaired People
Qualcomm Incorporated, through its Wireless Reach initiative, and Project RAY Ltd., which designs accessibility tools for blind and visually impaired people, today announced that they have developed the RAY mobile device, an always-on, easy-to-use, multi-function, smartphone that is synchronized withIsrael’s Central Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Handicapped audio books content. This collaboration sets a new standard in accessibility tools and ease of use for visually impaired people.
Today, the majority of blind and visually impaired people use simple 2G mobile phones for voice telephony only. In addition, they depend on an array of specialty devices, such as audio book-readers, color readers, navigation tools, raised Braille labels, special bar-code scanners, and large-buttoned, voice-enabled MP3 players which are prohibitively expensive. Based on an off-the-shelf Android OS smartphone powered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.’s Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the Project RAY device integrates the capabilities of smartphone technology and the capabilities of these multiple specialty devices into a single, cost-effective handset with 24/7 mobile broadband connectivity and a UI designed for eye-free interaction. A trial project is currently underway that is testing the new system with 100 participants throughoutIsrael.
The breakthrough UI defines a new language for human-device interaction that is built ground-up for eye-free operation. The user touches any position on the screen and that position becomes the starting point for selecting an audio-book, messaging or other activity. Navigation is enabled by a few simple finger movements in different directions. The phone’s built-in vibration capabilities and voice prompts provide user feedback and the UI learns to adapt its behavior based on users’ preferences and usage patterns.
The UI supports a rich set of services, including phone calls, text messaging with vocal read-out, navigation, object recognition, social network services, remote assistance, audio-book reading, and other leisure and entertainment offerings.
Audio-books, magazines and periodicals are an important method for accessing information for blind and visually impaired people, but the current system requires renting items by mail, which is not timely. Subscribers can now use RAY devices to easily access and download audio assets from the library over an advanced mobile broadband network, rather than waiting to receive CD copies.