Bidirectional Access Promotion Society (Bapsi) has released an Android app called PocketSMS, that allows visually impaired and hearing impaired individuals to send and read text messages (SMS) from their phones.
How It Works? The app converts the incoming text message into short and long vibration pulses, representing the dots and dashes in Morse code respectively. Users can sense these vibration pulses to read the SMS.
Morse Trainer: In case, any user is not familiar with Morse Code, Bapsi also offers a Morse Trainer Android app which enables users to learn Morse code on their mobile phones. Once an alphabet is written in Morse Trainer’s text box, the app vibrates in short and long vibrations corresponding to dots and dashes of the morse code.
The Bapsi website notes that PocketSMS and Morse Trainer are among the first of its Vibrations Series of products which aims to provide a series of mobile apps to enable visually challenged and hearing impaired people access information and communicate bidirectionally using smart phones.
The app has been developed by Anmol Anand during his Summer Internship Programme, using Google’s App Inventor, with guidance from Dr. Arun Mehta, President, Bapsi. While the app is currently limited to text messages, the organization intends to add support for Email, Twitter, Wikipedia, speech to text and text to speech conversion in the future iterations of the app. The only concern that we have is that the vibrations might affect the battery life of the phone. Also, learning morse code is a pre-requisite for using the app, which could get a bit complicated.
– Quick preview of how the app works (YouTube)
Similar Projects: In October 2011, a Mumbai-based engineering student Ankit Daftery had created a similar Android app called BrailleType, which included a pre-configured Braille character set within the app, thereby enabling visually challenged people to type on touch devices. He also wished to release the app into Google Play (previously Android Market), allowing visually impaired users to type in Braille across various third party apps on their phones.
A month later, Anirudh Sharma, an IT Engineer from Rajasthan Technical University had developed a non-obtrusive navigation for the visually impaired called Le Chal which comprised of a pair of shoes fitted with vibrators, proximity sensors and a Bluetooth pad connected to an Android phone that calculated directions and real time location using Google Maps and the phone’s built-in GPS and compass module.