Using a smartphone is easy, a few swipes here, a couple of taps there. But what if you can't see the screen, what if all those intricate details, the nuances that we all love so much were a minefield, a way of getting lost in an operating system with little home of getting out again?
Fearful that todays smartphone march will leave many blind people unable to use smartphones, Roger Wilson-Hinds, who is registered blind himself, has created an app that will turn any Android phone from the basic Samsung Y to the flagship Samsung Galaxy S 3 into a simple-to-use phone that can be used without the need to see.
Called Georgie (after Wilson-Hinds's wife's first guide dog) the new app promises to help blind users navigate day-to-day tasks such as catching a bus, reading printed text and knowing their exact whereabouts in unfamiliar areas.
Tasks more commonly associated with smartphones - like using Twitter, reading text messages and taking a picture - have also been included to be much easier to use and accessible to visually impaired people.
“I was able to send my very first text just earlier this year thanks to Georgie,” Roger Wilson-Hinds, Screenreader co-founder, told Pocket-lint when we tested out the app.
“It’s exactly that type of digital experience we want to make easily available to people with little or no sight. More than that though, it’s also going to help solve everyday problems for blind people so they can be more confident about navigating the real world and become independent.”
Rather than just be available in the Google Play store, Screenreader has teamed up with Sight and Sound Technology, a company that specialises in setting up devices, like phones, for blind people giving them the help and support they need.
“Companies like Apple and Google have done a good job of adding accessibility tools to smartphones, but Georgie is the first smartphone solution developed with the visually impaired in mind," said Glenn Tookey, CEO of Sight and Sound Technology. "For that reason Georgie offers relevant features which, coupled with our expertise in offering customer support to the blind community, makes for a really exciting, well supported product that we’re proud to exclusively distribute,”
The core features of the app include being able to make phone calls with pre-set numbers which can be altered at any time via the internet, texting your friends via voice command, and the ability to record your own personal points of interest such as safe crossing points.
Beyond the core features of the app, a variety of additional apps are also available for purchase and bundled into three different packages - Travel, Lifestyle or Communicate - to add more functions to support different aspects of daily life that blind people may find challenging.
These bundles are available for £24.99 each and include features such as letting you know what bus stop you need to get off at, find out the colour of an object, or thanks to OCR, have text on pages read out to you using the phones camera.
Georgie is available from £299 including a basic Android smartphone up to £750 for those who want the Samsung Galaxy S3. Anyone wanting to turn an existing Android handset into a Georgie phone can do so by downloading the £149 app from the Google Play store.