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Qualcomm and Project Ray seek to develop a smartphone for blind and visually impaired

Many find new technologies perfect for their day-to-day living as they make life easier and more fun. However, for people who have handicaps, especially blind people, using a cellphone is a nightmare. It’s definitely a good thing that chip-maker Qualcomm Technologies, Inc launched a project in partnership with Project Ray determined to developing a smartphone that could potentially make the lives of blind and visually impaired people easier than before.

For years, we have seen some specialty devices made for our blind brethren but they simply become a load that is to be carried every time. For example, visually impaired people who might have a hobby of reading books may buy audio book-readers or books that were printed in Braille. Others may want to have audio activated MP3 players and cellphones with considerably large buttons dedicated to making calls. A visually impaired geek could own these specialty devices together with special bar-code scanners, color readers and navigational tools but he has to put them into a backpack that he has to bring with him every time he goes anywhere. That’s the hassle both Qualcomm and Project Ray want to eliminate with their Ray mobile device.

Basically, Qualcomm has to build a device that would put many, if not all, of services a blind or visually impaired person needs into one small mobile phone. So the company does not need to put up a really powerful device to do this simply because it wants to market the Ray smartphone at an affordable price. The company didn’t release the official specs of the device it’s working on but it has been confirmed it will use its Snapdragon S4 chipset and run Google Android operating system to produce an always-on, easy-to-use and multi-function device for blind people.

“Based on an off-the-shelf Android OS smartphone powered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.’s Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the Project Ray device integrates the capabilities of smartphone technology and the capabilities of these multiple specialty devices into a single, cost-effective handset with 24/7 mobile broadband connectivity and a UI designed for eye-free interaction,” says Qualcomm-Project Ray joint release.

The smartphone will be synchronized with Israel’s Central Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Handicapped audio books content. The user interface would also support basic smartphone services such as phone calls, text messaging and social networking. Among other special services that would be bundled with a Ray device include vocal read-out, navigation, object recognition, remote assistance, audio-book reading and more.

[source: Slash Gear]