British company Screenreader, a computer company that offers solutions for blind and visually-impaired computer users, has developed and released Georgie, a suite of applications that helps blind and visually-impaired users get around and accomplish day-to-day tasks.
"The great thing that attracted me to (creating the app) was this notion of gaining confidence, and also having reassurance that you could press a button and get help if you were lost," said Screenreader co-founder Roger Wilson-Hinds in an article posted by Reuters.
Users can interact with the Georgie suite in two ways. The first way, by touch, reads touch screen selections aloud and enables users to navigate the applications by a lingering touch that indicates a selection with a beep. In the case of making an incorrect selection, users can also go back to a previous screen with a two-fingered swipe from right to left.
Users can also communicate with their phones by voice. Instead of entering text, users can speak into their phones and receive playback from the device with what it thinks was said. Users can then indicate whether the device's translation was accurate by operating its touch screen.
Perhaps the most important feature of Georgie, however, is its ability to keep its users aware of their surroundings and out of danger. Georgie can read labels, tell users where the nearest bus stop is and even which direction they are facing, and also allows users to record GPS-tagged voice labels for certain locations they pass to ensure their safety the next time they are in the vicinity.
"You can actually record a GPS-tagged voice label to say ‘dangerous steps' and as you're approaching it the phone will tell you that there are dangerous steps there," explained Screenreader CTO Alan Dean Kemp.
The Georgie app is available for Android devices such as the Samsung Xcover and Nexus, the Motorola Defy and LG P500 Optimus, and Screenreader sells Georgie-ready Samsung phones to eliminate installation for users. While the price of the app ($230) may seem steep to some, the application comes with a large support system that the company believes Georgie users are sure to enjoy.
"You get a help line, which will set up your contacts for you if you want and even come and train you, so there's a big support mechanism around it," Kemp said.