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Using apps to understand your environment

Smartphones with cheap processors, sensors and storage are quickly becoming some of the best assistive technology (AT) available...with the right apps.

Photo of DeletedUser
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Written by DeletedUser

I came across some interesting mobile apps for accessibility on the Yahoo! Accessibility Blog.

Michael Lam, Levi Lindsey, Chris Raastad and some other smart folks at the University of Washington developed Phone Wand, an app for Android that helps users orient themselves and navigate using vibration feedback on the phone. The video shows a demonstration of this app.

Some other students at the University of Washington came up with other novel ideas, including an app to identify sounds (e.g. a siren or fire alarm) and alert the user.

These projects were part of a capstone course on accessibility. Very inspirational to see good ideas implemented by a new generation of designers and developers!


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Photo of Arjan Tupan

Very nice. It's great to see students come up with these type of ideas. Might be good to let them have a look at this challenge as well :).

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Yes, very nice! Clever use of audio & vibration feedback for touchscreen phone input & navigation.