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New smartphone app lets users text ‘eyes-free’

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For visually impaired iPhone users, text messaging poses a definite problem. Voice recognition software may help, but what to do when a message needs to be a bit more discreet?

Now, thanks to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, those who have trouble seeing can now text “eyes-free” by using BrailleTouch, a piece of software that lets users text on a smartphone without glancing at the screen.

Drawing on the same model as the Braille keyboard, the software employs gesture-based texting and uses only six keys, which are displayed as dots. Because of the simple six-key configuration, the keyboard fits onto the small iPhone screen and allows users to keep their fingers in a fixed position while typing.

“Research has shown that chorded, or gesture-based, texting is a viable solution for eyes-free written communication in the future, making obsolete the need for users to look at their devices while inputting text on them,” said Mario Romero, the project’s principal investigator, in a press release.

In early studies, visually impaired participants proficient in Braille typing were able to use BrailleTouch to type up to 32 words per minute with 92 percent accuracy, making the software the most efficient “eye-free” technology yet.

Researchers hope the app will also be useful to those that don’t have vision problems.

“BrailleTouch is an out-of-the-box solution that will work with smartphones and tablets and allow users to start learning the Braille alphabet in a few minutes,” Romero said. “It also reduces the need for expensive proprietary Braille keyboard devices, which typically cost thousands of dollars.”

Thanks to Smartplanet.com for this story