Now that sales are skinning those of dull old feature phone alive, it’d be easy to think that the smartphone revolution has been beneficial to anyone with ears. But, there’s one demographic for whom the arrival and evolution of the smartphone has meant something between precious little and nothing at all: the blind and partially sighted.
Of course, all the benefits of touchscreen control, internet browsing, email and, well, you get the idea, are not benefits at all when you can’t see them to use them, which is why the not-for-profit social enterprise Screenreader (run by a blind husband and wife team) has buddied up with the distributor Sight and Sound Technology to produce Georgie.
An Android app designed specifically for the ocularly impaired, Georgie (the reasoning behind the name is unlikely to be made any clearer during the course of this article) makes the operation of smart devices easier by dividing the screen up into six basic buttons and utilises audio feedback to help guide users along. Voice recognition software, meanwhile, means users can make and take calls free from fumbling, send and receive texts, and even use GPS to fire off SMS messages containing info on their location. And that’s just the start, with additional add-on packs available and forthcoming that will add in Twitter functions and much more.
Available from Google Play soon, Georgie seems like an excellent idea that could make a tremendous technological difference to many, but some may baulk at the price – £149 for the core app with add on packs weighing in at £24.99 each. But then again, if you take a brief look at Google Play you’ll find that a basic screen-reader app alone will cost over £60, so throw in all the other functions and suddenly Georgie looks more than reasonable.