When someone buys their first smartphone, the first question is usually, what apps should I get? Apps are part of what make our phones so valuable to us, from getting directions to finding a place nearby to eat, to keeping track of various items when we travel.
And now, thanks to a man who is visually-impaired himself, there's an Android app that will turn a regular smartphone into a powerful tool for the blind.
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Roger Wilson-Hinds, director and co-founder of , built the app, called Georgie, specifically to help blind users navigate day-to-day obstacles like catching a bus, reading printed text and knowing exactly where they are at all times.
"It's the first smartphone that’s been designed for blind people by blind people," he said. And he should know, he just recently sent his very first text message.
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Users can buy an Android pre-loaded with the Georgie software from Sight and Sound Technology, which provides hardware and software solutions for the blind. If they already own an Android phone, they can buy the app from the Google Play store and install it themselves.
Georgie uses fingers and gestures to let users navigate the software, just like you do normally. However, with Georgie, you hold your finger down, wait for a beep and hear the function you're touching read out loud, whether it's to make a call, send a text, or determine your location. Georgie makes extensive use of voice control software.
"Georgie is a suite of applications designed to cater for every single part of a visually-impaired person's life," says Glenn Tookey, CEO of , which distributes the software.
Users can purchase and download additional apps that provide more functions. The lifestyle app pack, for instance, offers newspapers that read aloud, and an online blog that lets you post using voice control. The Travel app has a feature that flags nearby points of interest as well as a sort of bus monitor that will verbally let you know when the next bus is due.
Wilson-Hinds, who named the software after his blind wife's first seeing-eye dog, says Georgie will "totally change the lives of blind and partially-sighted people all over the world."
The world, soon, as Georgie is branching out beyond the UK. US Android users can find the link in the Google Play Sight and Sound Technology is currently working with distributors to offer Georgie pre-installed on handsets in the US.
Here's a video so you can see for yourself how Georgie works:
What are other ways technology is allowing people with disabilities to gain more independence? Is Georgie something you would buy for someone you know?
Images courtesy of
This story originally published on Mashable .