Duran has developed this software in collaboration with Adrian Lew, an assistant professor at Stanford University’s department of mechanical engineering, and Sohan Dharmaraja, a doctoral student. This Android-based app can make a big difference to visually impaired people, as it can potentially eliminate the need for a wireless Braille display.
The power of this software lies in the flexibility it provides. Instead of the eight clunky, physical keys on a standard Braille keyboard that have a pre-defined position, this software directs “keys” to orientate themselves to wherever the user presses his or her eight fingers.
If the user is confused, s/he simply takes his/her fingers off the screen and presses them down again. In other words, the keys find the fingers instead of the fingers finding the keys. All it takes to get the device started is a shake.
What is also terrific about this app is that it works as easily for people with large fingers as it does for those with smaller fingers. As Dharmaraja notes, this software allows the user “to type on a tablet hanging around the neck with hands opposed, as if playing a clarinet”.
Once this software becomes popular, many more such apps will become available, which in turn will make a device such as a tablet more relevant to the visually impaired.
It will also drive the prices of devices for the visually impaired down from their current levels of $4000-5000 to a few hundred dollars.