A smartphone app for visually challenged

Enabling technology

A smartphone app for visually challenged

There are 285 million visually-challenged people in the world, of which, 39 million are completely sightless. In an age when technology is revolutionising the way we shop, the way we order food and even how we bank, it is high time that we question its usefulness for those sections of the society that have been conveniently neglected and deprived of its benefits.

Kriyate, a Delhi-based enterprise, believes that technology can be reinvented to serve the visually challenged. And so it recently launched its first application in India, called ‘SimplEye’, which is an anywhere-touch, gesture and audio-based application for the visually-challenged.

SimplEye allows a user to access all the features of a smartphone with ease. The application is available free of cost on the Google playstore and can be downloaded on any Android smartphone. A user can navigate, take notes, listen to the news or even use a Braille keyboard to reply to messages.

The brainchild behind the software and founder of Kriyate, Sumit Dagar, an engineer, said, “There is huge gap between the normal, capable people and the non-sighted ones. And the app, ‘SimplEye’ is our first step towards making technology more beneficial for the visually-challenged.” He feels that “smartphones aren’t truly smart if they can’t open their world to the blind.”

According to Dagar, “the best feature of this app is its typing facility. After installing this app it works as a desktop for the user and with a bit of learning, he or she can
type with ease.”

Working and developing this app since four years and facing initial hiccups, like fund-raising and collaborating with organisations, the team came out with this final product which might benefit a large section of the society. The other features that come along are calender, stopwatch, weather, music, news, navigation and maps.

As per its usage, SimplEye removes all the clutter from the screen to present only one element at a time. A voice narrates which element is put on screen. The user then can interact with this element using simple gestures. For example, swiping up/down scrolls through the elements in order. Swiping left takes the user one step back. A single tap takes the user forward while a long press is for accessing options. 

One of the users, Sharda Prasanna Rout, who became partially blind after an accident and is currently pursuing PhD in Disability Policies from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said, “This app is great for those who already know braille. But for those who do not know, they have to learn and then use it. I have personally used this app and found it quite typing-friendly because I know braille.”

Another user of this app, Rohan Sharma, who is also partially blind and a freelance content developer, said, “There are various applications and phones in the market but they do not cater to ‘everyone’. Although, this app is not completely new, but it does have some unique features. Apple phones have a built-in voice software but others like Android and Google have very limited resources. So, this app is definitely a welcome change for us.”

The team behind this application is already working on future updates for the application that would include predictive typing, colour identification and location sharing too. Other products being developed include a complete Braille smartphone for the visually-challenged and Hi-Badge, a communication device for the deaf and mute.

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