Israeli smartphone for the blind to hit US

Smartphone designed for the visually impaired by Project RAY features intuitive touch and voice navigation technology.

June 13, 2013 22:36
1 minute read.
ChinaAid founder Bob Fu (R) helps US Rep. Chris Smith speak by phone with a blind Chinese dissident.

speaking on phone with blind man 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

A smartphone for the visually impaired designed by Israeli company Project RAY will be marketed and sold in the United States through Odin Mobile.

The company, which received support from chipmaker Qualcomm, developed a unique technology that allows users to use intuitive touch and voice navigation to access a slew of features, including phone, email, calendar and GPS. It is also able to identify bank notes, pictures and colors with the camera.

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“Our RAY smartphone, combined with Odin Mobile’s full cellular services for the blind and visually impaired, will finally bring to this important community the same services available to the mainstream full-sighted community,” Project RAY founder and CEO Boaz Zilberman said.

By centering the screens wherever a person touches, the technology helps the visually impaired easily navigate the options on the phone.

“This project is one of the most prominent instances of Qualcomm finding and developing technologies in Israel,” Ayal Bar-David, Qualcomm’s vice president of global market development in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Project Ray is one of a slew of small Israeli companies that Qualcomm is helping to push along, providing investments and commercial support to help them bring their products tomorrow, he said.

“This is the outcome of a small Israeli company and a large international company working together to help advance a product in markets that wouldn’t have been as readily accessible,” Bar-David said.

“We are proud to work with Project RAY and support their objective of bringing a mobile device to market that supports blind and visually impaired people so they can access resources and information independently,” said Kristin Atkins, senior director of government affairs for Qualcomm.

“Our team at Qualcomm Israel worked closely with Project RAY on the operational and product efforts of the first RAY device enabling independence and a richer social life for users by providing an all-in one, independent-living companion capable of eye-free input, text-to-speech, access to content, navigation, label recognition, augmented reality and integration with social networks,” she said.

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