the first touch tablet for the blind is a reality
Blitab: the first touch tablet for the blind is a reality
June 27, 2015 at 13:10
The technology sector is advancing by leaps and bounds. Every year, firms present great news, especially in the field of mobile devices. Today's smartphones and tablets have little or nothing to do with what we had just a few years ago. One of the great challenges that this industry faces is to adapt these devices so that people with different disabilities can also take advantage of their advantages, and if there is a type of disability that is especially complicated, it is blindness. Blitab, developed by an Austrian startup, is the first touch tablet for the blind.
The usual way we have adopted as a standard for interacting with mobile devices is based on two senses: sight and touch through touch screens. An impassable barrier so far for people with vision problems that require systems that are based on touch and hearing. But they can't be left behind, we live in the digital age and just like other systems have been adapted, smartphones and tablets should do the same so that this sector of the population can benefit from them within their means.
The point is that the big brands, except for few occasions when they launch projects to help certain groups, are not interested in developing a device for such a specific and limited number of users. Although they are the ones that have more resources, economic and technical, at their disposal, the benefits would surely not be enough to cover expenses, due to the high production costs which are usually associated, and that is why bets like the one made by this Austrian company are sometimes the only way out. A startup that adds to others like MotionSavvy, in California, which develops a tablet case capable of acting as a sign language interpreter for people with hearing problems.
"What we are doing is creating a completely new technology that offers braille output in a completely new and innovative way, without mechanical elements.". The idea consists of a liquid screen that generates bubbles that reproduce up to several lines of braille text or even embossed images. The technology also allows documents stored on a USB stick, a browser page or an NFC tag to be transcribed immediately.
The devices that currently exist in the market are very limited, the mechanical systems they use can barely reproduce one line of braille at a time and their price is exorbitant, which makes them inaccessible to the vast majority of users. Blitab is not economical, but it costs around a third, 2,500 euros. If we take into account that a normal iPad can exceed 1,000 euros or that Surface Pro costs more than 2,000 euros in its most powerful version, 2,500 euros, despite being a lot of money and that many unfortunately can not afford it, it is a reasonable cost for everything it offers and more, in the case of a startup.
Slavev's own words: “This is revolutionary and we want to solve a big problem, the literacy of blind people. The technology is very scalable so that we can emit images and any relief representation such as maps, graphics or geometric figures, in order to serve as a educational tool for blind people". On the other hand, it also emphasizes what we told at the beginning, the need for blind people or people with disabilities in general to also participate in the digital era that we have had to live and therefore have the opportunity to surf the Internet or read books . And speaking of books, with this technology they also hope to help increase the supply of braille books (It is estimated to be only 1%).
The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and Barlays have already been interested in the Blitab for their clients in the United Kingdom despite the fact that It is still only a prototype. If these and other investors support the project and the financing is successful, Blitab could go on the market as a final product in September 2016