Project RAY - Smartphones for People with Vision Loss
Tom Spendlove posted on January 27, 2014 | 9253 views

Boaz Zilberman and the Project RAY team saw that smartphones were changing the way that people lived and decided that people with vision loss needed a device that could perform the same functions.

The OS for the Ray phones is unique because it uses operator gestures and audio commands to interact with the device. The user knows where the center is for each screen and can gesture around a paneled grid to access the desired function. Along with voice notifications, specialized tones and vibrations alert the user to each feature and screen that are accessed.

Data entry can be done through the online secure user interface for the user to access at any time. Innovative features for the blind include color detection, bank note denomination detection, and an app to find your phone. The idea isn't just to help the visually impaired but also their families and caretakers. Ray phones can increase independence, enrich social lives and improve accessibility for its users.

Huawei Vision phones are the Google-based launchpad for the three Ray phones. Each model includes a 5.0 Megapixel camera, 4 GB Rom plus an 8 GB SD card, and Android OS. The Ray G510 boasts a 1.2 Ghz Dual Core processor and a larger 4.5 inch display. Phones can be purchased through the Project RAY website and are currently available for use in the United States and Israel.

A Google app for testing the interface is available here, and a fantastic podcast is available at the Cool Blind Tech website where Boaz discusses the reasons that all of the RAY functions needed a stand alone phone at launch instead of one colossally large app.

According to the National Federation for the Blind, 6.6million Americans reported visual disability in 2011. There's no question that using a smartphone changed the way that I personally think about data, numbers and physical location. A huge chunk of the population now has access to the same set of possibilities that we take for granted.

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