Ryan Poltermann, of Virginia Beach, has long known that there is a missing piece of technology for those who are blind. When using a smart phone, people can look at their screen and interact with it, but blind people must carry around a bulky braille display that pairs to the phone via Bluetooth. When the initial concept of modular phones was announced about two years ago, Ryan realized that a braille display mod could be the solution for this problem. It is virtually impossible to develop a specialized braille display phone, considering how much it would cost the manufacturer, and how small the target market is. The advantage of modular phones is that they can be customized by the manufacturers and the users to meet the needs of even small groups. Motorola has made it clear that they will continue to back the Moto Z, which is a modular phone. Motorola promises twelve new mods each year for the Moto Z.
Ryan Poltermann is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise the money necessary for his Braille Moto Mod. The Braille Moto Mod
Has two versions. The first is a single cell version, which I assume allows the user the ability to purchase the number of cells which is best suited and cost effective. The second version is a multi-cell mod that has up to 110 cells.
It is difficult to know all the details, because Ryan is having to maintain some secrecy since he still has some patent and funding issues to resolve.
From the Developer
Braille Moto Mod
For vision-impaired and blind users
Why This Exists
I’ve been a Systems Engineer for over ten years designing mission-critical systems which provides the necessary knowledge to combine various intricate systems together and work fluidly. In addition, I was involved in the ideation process within Motorola for more than four years, evaluating ideas along with providing feedback for many aspects of design, including mobile phone design.
I’ve been designing this in my head for more than two years. I was prepared to design this system for Project Ara, Google’s modular phone, and attended both DevCons, but when that platform fell through my plans were put on hold. With the MotoMod platform and being selected as a finalist, I have a chance to create something that will be beneficial to those who need it.
Although I am not vision-impaired, nor do I know anyone who is, I have always been troubled by technology’s steady march toward becoming increasingly visual. Phones with a physical keyboard were once commonplace but are now a rarity; this could hinder the ability of visually-impaired users to effectively use their phones. While advancements in screen size and resolution assist with vision-impaired, it does not directly assist those who are blind. And while voice dictation can be used, it’s cumbersome and doesn’t allow for pauses for a user to think.
So, why do it? I love design. I love technology. And I think it’s meant for everyone.
I tried to use the voice navigation within Android, and it’s an extremely frustrating experience. It is extremely difficult to navigate and use, doesn’t allow for privacy of the user unless they constantly have headphones, and is troublesome for those who read faster than a voice speaks.
This is a starting point to determine if this is something that people wish to have developed. Users with disabilities should not be left behind while technology progresses. Braille keyboards are extremely large and expensive.
One of the issues is that I need to be vague to protect patentable concepts while still providing enough details for individuals to stand behind. The answers will be in the patents and the features that they will provide. There are two designs planned, one for a single character and one for multiple. The single character design is planned around six actuators, whereas the multiple character design will have a custom design. Software design will have custom features to display the information normally onscreen with user personalization.