New Braille Touch Screens on Mobile Devices Assists Blind Users

Touchscreen smartphones are becoming more and more popular with consumers. Unfortunately, visually-impaired users are unable to take full advantage of these 'super phones.' However, a new technology called E-Sense developed by Senseg, a Swedish company, allows blind users to feel different textures on the screen of a mobile device. This enables them to read messages and webpages, and potentially opens doors for future applications of this exciting innovation. Schools offering Computer Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.


The Technology of Touch

The ability to feel the different textures of touchscreens is based on the use of 'tactile pixels' or 'tixels.' These 'tixels' create an electric field that is above the surface of the screen. The distance above the touchscreen is only a few millimeters, but it allows a user to feel different textures. The technology is similar to that of haptic feedback, which uses vibration as confirmation of a finger touch or tap. E-Sense is much more advanced, however, allowing for a wider range of tactile feedback. Additionally, there are many more useful applications, particularly for the visually-impaired.

Braille Reading

The most obvious application of E-Sense technology is the ability to provide blind users the ability to read e-mail and instant messages as well as webpages on their smartphones. Furthering the possibility that E-Sense technology may be featured on many smartphones is the fact that it is relatively inexpensive. Toshiba has already expressed an interest in E-Sense and is exploring ways it can use the technology in its products. There are also other ideas for how to use this tactile-pixel technology.

Future Applications of E-Sense

E-Sense developers also hope that at some point in the future the technology can be used to simulate the sensation of touching the face of a newborn baby or holding the hand of a friend. The technology may also have applications in the gaming industry. Gaming is huge world-wide, and developers plan to use E-Sense to make a dent in the mobile gaming market. The current issue facing many handset makers is that there is not enough space for gaming controls on mobile devices. The introduction of tactile displays and elements, such as buttons and knobs, powered by E-Sense may solve this design dilemma.

Visually-impaired users may also benefit from applications that utilize voice-powered command technology. Recently, technology and retail giant, Apple, purchased a company that developed the popular Dragon dictation software. The introduction of E-Sense into the market, though, may be the first important step towards giving visually-impaired users the ability to experience the full power of modern technology and mobile computing.

Smartphones are popular with college students. But some students are learning how to cope without these mobile devices.

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