Texting is either the bane of civilization or a breakthrough in mobile communications, depending on your point of view. Pretty much anyone under 35 can be spotted habitually tapping away on their phones, often blithely ignorant of what’s going on around them. While this is a detriment to the unwise who text and drive, a quick message can sometimes accomplish more than a 20-minute phone call.
The tech is less useful for the blind. While electronic readers can relay messages, and Braille smartphones can bridge the gap, those are mainly slight alterations to devices designed for sighted individuals. The Design Research Lab in Berlin, Germany has developed a haptic feedback glove designed specifically for blind users to improve texting capabilities.
The back of the Gore-Tex glove is covered with sensors on the palm side of the hand, allowing users to tap out messages using the Lorm Alphabet. Developed in the late 1800s, the Lorm Alphabet allows the blind to spell out words by tapping different parts of the hand. Vowels are produced by touching the tips of the fingers, while other letters are kind of drawn across the palm.
The back of the glove is festooned with vibrating motors (like the kind in your cell phone) that simulate the Lorm Alphabet by buzzing in specific areas to spell out messages. The entire glove is connected to a mobile device via Bluetooth. The front and back of the glove combine to create a user experience designed specifically for blind users.
Not only is the technology great for the blind, the Design Research Lab is looking in to other ways it might be used. Integrated sensors in clothing could provide users, even sighted users that don’t know the Lorm Alphabet, shortcuts for communication in loud or busy professions where operating a computer or other mobile device isn’t an option.
Below you’ll find a video about the glove.