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04/23/2013

World's first Braille smartphone unveiled by Indian inventor

The iPhone has been a godsend for many blind consumers.

Austin Seraphin, an American blind since birth, wrote in a blog post in 2010 that he could use the phone's voice activation function to tap an item to hear it.

He wrote that his mother "pulled out her phone, and sent me a text message. Within seconds, my phone alerted me, and said her name. I simply swiped my finger and it read her message: Hi Austin."

But what about the millions of blind consumers who can't afford Apple's high-end phones?

An Indian inventor has come up with a lower-cost alternative.

Sumit Dagar, who works out of the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship, says he has created the world’s first Braille smartphone, according to a report in the India Times.

Messages and texts are sent like other smartphones. But instead of a smooth glass panel, the phone comes with a series of pins under the screen which elevate or depress to form letters and words in Braille. The pins can be felt on the screen.

A prototype is being tested at an eye institute in Hyderabad.

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at the Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead

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