April 3, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
The latest entry to the “Hey, That’s Pretty Cool” chronicles: Google’s Eyes-Free Shell and Configuration Manager that enables blind dialing on Android phones. Pressing the touchscreen turns the phone into a virtual keypad that responds to movements. The finger is automatically centered on the 5 button, so swiping right dials 6, up dials 2, diagonal up-left dials 1, etc.
Google engineers Charles Chen and T.V. Raman, who is blind, developed this technology to make phones more accessible to the visually challenged, but it has proven useful to sighted people as well. I don’t advocate dialing while driving, but let’s be honest and acknowledge that it happens. This technology makes it a little safer because users don’t have to look at their screen to make sure they touch the right number.
The Eyes-Free Shell is available in the Android Market (search for ‘Eyes’). Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology also provides signal strength, battery power, time and date, and other information. Video examples are available at the EyesFreeAndroid YouTube channel.
(Stroke Dialer seen beginning at 1:55 mark)