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The Tactile Images READER app is here to play the role of the person over the shoulder, to help blind people explore tactile graphics – drawings with raised surfaces – independently. Because it uses artificial intelligence and interactive augmented reality to help guide fingers on the graphic and because it speaks to the blind, it can be taken anywhere. Nevertheless, the app is far from being perfect. Read this article and find out why you should help up improve this solution!

1. The READER mobile app for the blind is at the Alpha level

 

The Tactile Images READER mobile app is the result of years of research. This mobile app was created with the aid of sponsors and individual donors who believed in our dream.

Anyone can download the READER app from the App Store. Because it is a minimum viable product, it needs the feedback and support of users.

2. It is only available for iOS

At this stage, we only afforded to create the iOS version of the app. Although we all know that iPhones are more expensive than Android phones, it was the only way we could make the app available to the public.

Creating the Android version of the app would mean that more blind people would have access to independent learning, to this solution for a better life.

3. It might suddenly stop working

Exploring a tactile graphic independently is easy because the app does not have any buttons. This means that all blind people can use it, but there are times when the app stops working. Let me explain.

The app can read a tactile graphic through the QR code attached. That’s how the connection between the two is made – the app can, in that way, access the LIBRARY of tactile graphics and get the information it needs to guide the blind person’s hand and to give him/her audio information. But sometimes, that connection gets lost – it is then when the app suddenly stops working. For it to work again, you must either zoom out or refresh with a screen tap.

4. It does not tell the difference between the two hands

Blind people explore tactile graphics with two hands. That’s how they get familiar with new visual concepts, but they also need the voice of another person, who explains what they are touching.

The READER mobile app for the blind does just the same. But now, it is unable to tell the difference between the right hand and the left. This is the reason why blind people are, for now, constrained to use only one hand if they want to be guided by the app. If they want to find out details about a certain area of the graphic, they have to withdraw one hand, clench the fist of the other and point with the index finger. That’s how they make the app talk to them.

5. The READER mobile app for the blind can only follow the index finger

The fact that the READER app talks to a blind person is the easy part, there are a lot of assistive technologies that do that. What’s more difficult is for it to decide to focus on and identify the hand.

Actually, for now, it can only identify the index finger. This is why blind people must point their index finger at a particular area on the graphic if they want to find out details about it.

6. The Tactile Images READER app for the blind does not read hands accurately

The process of reading hands is quite a challenge and requires a lot of work. Technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning team up to make this process possible.

To be able to recognize fingers, machine learning must be trained. For that, we need around 300.000 pictures of different index fingers – for it to be able to identify more types of fingers, placed in various positions.

Anyone can help us reach this goal by sending us a 10 seconds video of their index finger. Read more about how you can change the world of the blind by sending a short video in this article.

7. It consumes a lot of phone battery life

The app must read a tactile graphic multiple times a second to be able to explore it accurately. This is why it requires a lot of phone resources and, consequently, drains its battery life.

If a blind person wants to explore an entire tactile catalog independently, he/she should have a charger at hand, because you never know when the phone will get to 10% battery life. Right now, we are testing three artificial intelligence models. One of them consumes fewer resources, but because we are only in the research and development stage, we need funding to find and implement the best option.

The Tactile Images READER mobile app for the blind makes the independent exploration of tactile graphics possible. It does not matter where the graphic is situated – it can be on a desk or a wall; the app will read it if it has a QR code attached and is present in our database. For that, it must either be downloaded from our LIBRARY or created in our EDITOR.

But the truth is that the mobile app needs improvement – it is at the Alpha level. This is why we need you to donate and join our movement for independent learning.

Do you have any questions about the current situation or the future of the Tactile Images READER mobile app for the blind? Write in the comment section below!

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