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Tapping with out seeing: Making touchscreens accessible

2 min read

Tapping with out seeing: Making touchscreens accessible

Arduino GroupOctober twenty seventh, 2023

Trendy units rely closely on touchscreens as a result of they permit for dynamic interfaces that aren’t attainable with standard tactile buttons. However these interfaces current a difficulty for folks with sure disabilities. An individual with imaginative and prescient loss, for instance, won’t be capable of see the display screen’s content material or its digital buttons in any respect. To make touchscreens extra accessible, a group of engineers from the College of Michigan developed this special phone case called BrushLens.

This case expands a smartphone so as to add a matrix of actuators or capacitive contact simulator pads. The previous work with all types of touchscreens (together with resistive), whereas the latter solely work with capacitive touchscreens — although these are the most typical sort right now. The smartphone’s personal digicam and sensors let it detect its place on a bigger touchscreen, so it will possibly information a consumer to a digital button after which press that button itself.

The prototype {hardware} contains an Arduino Nano 33 IoT board to manage the actuators and/or capacitive contact factors. It receives its instructions from the smartphone by way of Bluetooth® Low Power.

For that to work, the smartphone should perceive the goal touchscreen and talk the content material to the consumer. That communication is feasible utilizing current text-to-voice methods, however analyzing goal touchscreens is harder. Ideally, UI designers would come with some kind of identifier so the consumer’s smartphone can question display screen content material and button positions. Nonetheless, that’s an added expense and would require rebuilds of current interfaces. For that purpose, BrushLens contains some means to research touchscreens and their content material.

This is a very early prototype, however the idea has quite a lot of potential for making a world stuffed with touchscreens extra accessible to these residing with disabilities.

Picture credit score: Chen Liang, doctoral pupil, College of Michigan’s Laptop Science and Engineering

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