• Braille Phone

    The Challenge

    Transform life experiences of visually impaired by bridging the ever-widening technology gap.


    The Outcome

    A futuristic concept phone (and working prototype) that provides smartphone capabilities and beyond to visually impaired users.


    Recognitions

    TED Fellow

    Rolex Young Laureate


    Role

    Innovator

    Tactile Screen

    The Braille Phone was a novel concept at the time. It envisioned an unique tactile screen that is made up of grid of pins which can rise up from surface of the screen. Together, they could form touchable patterns. 


    For a non-sighted this display can be metaphorised as a sculpture in a world full of paintings. 

    Smartphone

    As ubiquitous smartphones of the day, Braille Phone provides access to all the tech features. Instead of using visual screen, it relies on tactile screen to convey the same information.


    Along with the screen, the interface itself is designed for easy usage with touch-only UI. Non-sighted users are able to use all features of smartphone such as phone calling, messaging, organiser, maps, music, email etc. 

    Superpower

    Apart from typical features, the phone also acts as a translator of information from visual to tactile. It can be specially useful for scenarios such as text to tactile, image to tactile, skype video to tactile or even tactile translation for in-person conversations.


    Interface such as this, helps visually impaired users to catch up with their sighted peers. It also enables them to have novel (tech) superpowers of their own.

    Process highlight: User Research

    It is more important to identify the right problems, than the solutions that can solve them. We immersed ourselves in extensive user research to understand their daily routines, and identify the relevant problems. Since this was a novel project, it required deeper understanding of user's context and adaptability of solutions. 


    We built journey maps that could closely reflect user's persona and can help us identify areas which we can target. We then validated and iterated those with a bigger set of users. 


    We worked closely with organisation for visually impaired for several months. We identified clear persona's and their journey maps. We worked closely with influencers and experts.

    Inclusive design guidelines

    Some of the seminal guidelines that we learned from primary research were:


    • Create sequential and linear workflows.
    • Create short workflows with landmarks.
    • Use consistent layouts only with high affordance.
    • Use real life metaphors.
    • Cater for discreet usage of the device.

    Prototyping

    This being we futuristic concept, we concentrated heavily on high fidelity prototyping and quick user feedback. We  created frugal and rapid prototypes and validated these with users. These prototypes varied in functionality, form and fidelity. While some were 3D prints only, some were actual working models with controlled set of features.