One of the biggest challenges of using a touch screen device when you're blind is typing on the on screen keyboard. Solutions like Fleksy and MBraille have addressed many of these issues, but they don't work for everyone. A team in Israel is working on a whole new way of typing. Their app known as the UpSense Super keyboard relies on gestures rather than a standard QWERTY keyboard design. Think of it as being similar to the handwriting feature in iOS 7.
Along with creating a gesture based typing app, the UpSense Super Keyboard will also allow you to type in braille. At this point, the hope is to release the app for Android and iOS this year, but the team needs more funding in order to bring the app to market. If you want to support their efforts, consider contributing to their Indiegogo campaign by following the link in the headline.
Since I wasn't clear on how the UpSense keyboard differed from solutions that already exist, I contacted the developer Nissan Yaron.
Q: How is the UpSense keyboard different from solutions like Fleksy?
A: Our keyboard works entirely different, it's based on making gestures with the fingers rather than pressing on specific keys.
After calibration, hot zones come under your fingers and make it possible to define between your fingers in a way that doing the same gesture with a different finger will create a different character.
The characters are made in intuitive way so it's easy to remember them and you can also customize them according to your comfort.
For example, typing 'V' is made with the Index and Middle fingers together in an upward movement.
If you want, you can switch it for downward movement or to something entirely different.
A: How does the braille version of the keyboard differ from apps like MBraille?
Q: First, it's a real keyboard and not an app which requires you to copy the text and paste it on another app. It works just as the standard keyboard and it's opens automatically whenever you touch a text field.
Second, it adjusts to your hand size and shape making it ergonomic. You also don't need to find the keys, they just come to you.
And last, it has a built in help mode which can help you every time you forget a character or a special sign, and can also help beginners to learn braille in a fun and intuitive way.
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For the past three years Alena has been a feature writer for the online magazine Matilda Ziegler. She has also been a contractor for the Oregon Commission for the Blind, helping blind adults learn to use adaptive technology. She is studying to be a teacher of the visually impaired at Portland State. You might also recognize her from the Serotalk podcast Triple Click Home.