A gadget enables blind people to read emails on iPhone
PARTIALLY sighted or blind people rely on braille, an exclusive system of raised dots that can be read by touch, to read. But the advent of the digital age has meant millions of blind and deaf-blind people have been left behind in their education, at work
Bonocle lets blind people read digital content from a laptop, iPad or iPhone. It is a pocket-sized reader that can receive
The revolutionary small gadget which enables blind people to read emails on their iPhone will go on sale by the end of the year. The few devices currently on the market that are able to convert digital content into braille are cumbersome and so expensive they are beyond the budget of most people.
As small as a computer mouse
The size of a computer mouse, the latest gadget lets blind people read text on a laptop, iPad or iPhone either by moving the device from left to right or choosing an ‘auto-scroll’ option which takes them to the next line.
They can also skip lines, paragraphs or pages by single, double or triple taps of a button.
It has been built by three engineers—-an electrical, a mechanical and
But the advent of the digital age has meant millions of blind and deafblind people have been left behind in their education, at work
The few devices currently on the market that are able to convert digital content into braille are unmanageable, and expensive.
Transmits digital content via Bluetooth
The invention works by transmitting digital content via Bluetooth to a receiver the size of a computer mouse which then converts it into braille.
A blind or visually impaired person sitting in a café or on a train uses a braille reader on top of the device to scroll through their messages.
The few devices currently on the market that are able to convert digital content into braille are
The image shows a Bonocle reader close up and the raised pins that create Braille codes
Braille displays which can read digital content work by raising rounded pins through a surface which can be translated into letters and words via touch.
Older devices which use Bluetooth to convert digital content into braille have cost between £1000 and £6000. But makers of the Bonocle say it will sell for about £300.
They say the user-friendly device, small enough to fit in a small handbag, is designed so blind people do not look like they have a disability when they use it in public.
‘Bonocle is much more portable and follows a design concept that integrates the visually impaired community into society rather than segregates them into a group,’ said one of the inventors, Ramy Abdul Zaher, 25.
‘One of the most important factors is cost, we aim to provide Bonocle to the entire blind community and doing so at an affordable price was one of our main focus points.
Braille displays which can read digital content work by raising rounded pins through a surface which can be translated into letters and words via touch
It can convert text into a series of braille codes designed to be read by people who are blind.
The codes are read by touch on a special display at the top of the Bonocle reader.
The display is made up of six round dots that can be raised or unraised in different combination to spell out different words or letters.
By connecting the Bonocle reader to a phone or laptop through Bluetooth, digital content can be transmitted to the reader and converted to braille codes.
The reader can be placed above the text as displayed on a phone screen to allow the user to navigate the page as they read, either manually —- even skipping lines and sections —- or on ‘autoscroll’ setting.
‘The device acts similar to a mouse where when it slides from left to right on a surface, the letters are sent digitally to the braille cell which mimics the braille equivalent of those letters allowing a visually impaired person a natural reading experience as if reading off a braille paper.’
Not only can it be used to read content in real time, but the device can also store books in a braille library to be called up and read at leisure.
In 2017 the team won a $100,000 prize to develop the model awarded by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy which is funding technology as part of the legacy of the 2022 World Cup, which Doha is hosting, and another $100,000 from the Qatar Foundation.
250 million visually impaired people
There are currently about 250 million visually impaired people in the world, of whom just 10% have learned
Abdel Razek Aly, 25, the computer scientist on the team, believes that only by improving technology will blind and visually impaired people be encouraged to learn braille and improve their lives.
He said: ‘We’ve seen the struggles that visually impaired people are going through and how the market has been frozen with no innovation. It’s been there for 30 years with no new technology.
‘Governments are trying to push braille literacy because it helps visually impaired people get into employment. So user-friendly and affordable braille technology is much needed in every way.’
The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) said it looked forward to trying out Bonocle.
RNIB’s Innovation Through Partnerships Manager, Robin Spinks said: “Braille has been reborn as a digital medium and any innovation which reduces cost and improves availability is warmly welcome. We look forward to trying out this new innovation.”-Internet