SimplEye

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SimplEye

A gesture based minimalistic app (launcher) for blind users.


Recognitions

Echoing Green Fellow

NCPEDP Universal Design Award

NASSCOM Social Entrepreneur

Manthan Award


Role

Lead


Team

4 developers (outsourced), 1 designer, 1 researcher

Problem

Accessibility standards are well defined for web platforms, and there is high adoption amongst developers for these. Also, there are a number of assistive softwares on desktop that allow easy access to all standard features.


On mobile platform however, the number of solutions are lesser, and their experience is compromised. The default OS accessibility features are Talkback for Android and Voiceover for iOS. Both these are only screen readers that read content tapped by the user. Since the UI itself is designed for sighted users, it is typically densely populated with content. Hence, it requires lot of exploration with finger for a blind user to use these interfaces.

SimplEye

SimplEye app takes a fundamental approach towards accessibility and offers a radically minimal user-experience. 


The screen displays only one UI item at a time. It is displayed in big text with high contrast colors. User can interact with this item by using simple gestures like scroll up, down, left, right, tap, double tap etc. Note that user can make these gestures anywhere on the screen instead of finding the UI item with her finger. UI items and gesture feedback is also spoken out using default screenreader TTS.

     

SimplEye is a launcher app. It comes with following features:

  • Calling/Messaging
  • Braille Typing
  • Maps/Navigation
  • Music
  • News
  • Weather
  • Organiser/Calendar 
  • Dictionary
  • Notes
  • Time (timer, stopwatch, alarms) 

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Information Architecture

SimplEye follows the design guidelines we identified as part of Braille Phone project. Specifically, these two:

  • Create sequential and linear workflows.
  • Create short workflows with landmarks.

The Information Architecture (examples shown above) reflects the same. Each chart covers one functionality in completeness. Any flow that originates from left, linearly flows till its completion (towards right). There are no jumps from one tree to another. Also, the milestones on a flow are similar in heirarchy and interaction to respective milestones on other flows.


This architecture complements minimal UI. Steps for any flows are also easily memorable, and provide high affordance. Users were able to mentally complete a sequence of steps even before starting a flow. This was critical for our target segment, and its effectiveness was validated in further studies.


The detailed documentation of flows beyond Information Architecture was intentional. It optimised the development timelines as this project was outsourced for development.

User Research

As mentioned above, this project was based on design guidelines derived from user studies conducted for the Braille Phone project. The guidelines were equally applicable for software UI as they were for physical products.


Users appreciated the simplicity of the app. So much so, that elderly people also started using the app even though they were not from target segment. The feedback helped us optimise the app further by:

  • Prioritizing the features in correct order
  • Providing access to other apps installed on phones
  • Integrating SimplEye with Talkback gestures
  • Removing the "sequence numbers" from list architecture
  • Spinning off a keyboard only app (7 Braille)

We interfaced with users (200+) via multiple mediums:

  • Face to face interviews
  • Conducting workshops at rehab centers
  • In-App questionnaire
  • Playstore reviews

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