2017 was a big year for assistive technology for the blind and visually impaired. While some products are still in development, it’s exciting to see so much in the works!
We’ve compiled 10 of our favorite tech advancements from the last year.
Which ones are you most excited about?
- Wayband by Wear.Works
This wearable device guides users to a specified location using vibration. The Wayband helps the visually impaired navigate the world unassisted, and it was used during the New York City Marathon for the first time in 2017.
This free mobile app connects visually impaired individuals with a sighted volunteer via video chat for assistance with everyday tasks. Sighted volunteers can help someone check the expiration date on a carton of milk or figure out what color shirt to wear. It’s a perfect way to connect the two worlds and learn from each other.
- Dot Smartwatch
Dot is the first tactile smartwatch. The device can tell the date and time and share notifications, with additional features available on an app. In addition to being useful technology, the watch also features a stylish, sleek design.
- Tactile Text-to-Braille Converter
Developed by a team at MIT, this prototype hopes to bring text-to-braille conversion to a wider audience. Although this product is still in development, the goal is to make this technology affordable and accessible for the visually impaired community. About the width of a paperback book page, this device will be easy to carry around and use on the go.
Apple has enhanced its VoiceOver features, increasing accessibility for the visually impaired. With improvements to reading PDFs and email messages, Apple is working to integrate accessibility features more seamlessly into their overall operating system.
The Read Read is an educational device that teaches Braille – without a teacher. Tablets for each letter are placed into a slot on the device. When a tablet is touched, audio mimicking the sound for each letter is heard. Available for pre-order, this technology grants independence to students, allowing them to study their ABCs anytime, anywhere.
BrainPort uses electro-tactile technology to help blind users with orientation, mobility, and object recognition. Available by prescription, BrainPort comprises a set of camera-equipped sunglasses that attach to a device that is placed in the user’s mouth. The device creates moving patterns on the user’s tongue (which some have described as pixels) that help them understand the objects in front of them. In fact, some users have even used it to help them climb mountains! You can learn more about that here.
Developed by a self-taught 14-year-old programmer, the Talking Laundry Module is a small device that attaches to your washer and dryer and reads out various settings. The device is designed to help the visually impaired know how much time is left in their wash cycle and to select the correct settings. Now if only it could fold the laundry, too…
- The Eye See
Developed by college students, the Eye See is a helmet prototype designed to help the visually impaired “see” the world around them. In addition to describing objects and people for the user, the helmet also emits a warning sound when the wearer is too close to an obstacle, making life on the go just a bit more safe.
Currently in development at the University of Michigan, this Braille tablet is the first of its kind. Designed to read entire pages of text rather than one line, this tablet will use air or fluid to push up braille letters, eliminating the need for excessive motors that would make the device too large.
This is an informative post for our community.
BlindNewWorld was not paid to promote these products and receives no revenue from any purchases.