Qualcomm Ray – an eyes-free phone for the blind and visually impaired

Now this is a feelgood story, and no mistake; according to their own website, chip manufacturer Qualcomm has expanded their range of products, because they’ve gone and unveiled an actual smartphone. There is a bit of a difference to everything else on the market, though, because it’s designed to be used by the blind and visually impaired.

It’s called the Qualcomm Ray, and for once, I’m not even going to bother talking about the specs, because high specs are very definitely not the point of this phone. There’d be no point comparing it to something like the Samsung Galaxy S3, because quite frankly, that ain’t what the Qualcomm Ray is all about…

No, the whole point of the Qualcomm Ray is that it’s designed to be used eyes-free. To that end, there’s a custom interface on top of the base Android OS, and its built entirely around simple gestures and voice controls. Basically, the user starts at any point on the screen, and then, so far as I can tell, drags it in a particular direction to activate a particular feature (like dragging up and right to go to messaging, for example, or in another direction for audiobooks).

Oh, and as well as tactile feedback to confirm actions on the phone, the Qualcomm Ray also uses voice prompts and text-to-speech, to do things like reading text messages out to the user, which is really very cool.

Finally, the phone’s interface learns how the user actually, well, uses their phone, and can adapt itself accordingly, to make the whole thing even easier to use. Granted, a lot of phones do that, nowadays (for example, the Google Now feature in Jelly Bean, or Siri in the iPhone 5), but seeing it in this particular phone seems somehow more heart-warming.

So yeah, pretty cool story all round, really!

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About TechnicalMarkus

It's a little known fact Technical Markus has now beaten both his Transformers addiction AND his Mass Effect addiction, by replacing both with an equally obsessive addiction to XCOM: Enemy Unknown and buying Humble Bundles for his Android phone. At the moment, he's pondering the actual usefulness of smartwatches and smart glasses, even if the nerd in him is shouting for joy at how sci-fi they are. He spends his spare time being whinged at to figure out what's wrong with other people's mobile phones, and drinking unimaginable quantities of tea. With milk. And three sweeteners, thanks for asking. Oh, and he's got an HTC One X, but he reckons his next phone might be a Sony, the turncoat...