World's first Braille smartphone in development

Story highlights

  • 2011 TED Fellow Sumit Dagar is developing the world's first smartphone for visually impaired people
  • The phone's screen contains pins which move to form Braille characters when an SMS or email is received
  • It uses Shape Memory Alloy technology which ensures pins contract back to their original position
  • The phone will retail for about $185, and the team hopes to release it by the end of 2013

For all of their advantages, smartphones still fall a little short for some — specifically, for those living with visual impairment.

While apps like Siri and SayText do offer a good deal of assistance, 2011 TED Fellow Sumit Dagar had an idea for a more effective solution: a smartphone that's specifically designed for people who have trouble seeing.

Read: The world's tiniest fisheye camera

The phone, which has yet to be officially named, has a screen comprised of a grid of pins, which move up and down to form into Braille shapes and characters whenever an SMS message or email is received. It uses what's called Shape Memory Alloy technology, so as each pin expands, it remembers and contracts back to its original flat shape.

In an interview with the Times of India, Dagar describes the phone as "[the] world's first Braille smartphone ... a companion more than a phone."

Dagar, an interaction design graduate of the National Institute of Design (NID), came up with the idea for the phone three years ago. He's collaborating with IIT Delhi on the prototype, which is being tested at the LV Prasad Eye Institute. The team hopes to release the phone by the end of 2013, for a about $185.

You can catch Dagar's TED Talk from 2011 here.

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