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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

ImageA phone with a variable keypad, a pen that records audio on to objects – welcome to the world of assistive technology

EyesFree, a new interface for Google's Android mobile phone operating system, provides a perfect illustration of what today's "assistive technology" researchers are looking for. It provides a way for blind people to use a phone with a touch-sensitive screen, but the corollary is that it also provides sighted people with an easier way to use the phone. In fact, they can make calls without even looking at it.

The idea behind EyesFree is that wherever you put your finger on the touchscreen represents the number 5. If you want 1, you move your finger up and to the left, and if you want 8 then you move it straight down, and so on. In alpha mode, your finger is surrounded by letters instead. You get spoken feedback for each selection, and if you pick the wrong number or letter, you can delete it by shaking the phone.

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