Geoff sent me a link to the new Good Vibes app from Samsung the other day, I watched their promo video and it was just......heartwarming. Good Vibes is a smartphone app (available in their Galaxy Store) that converts morse code into text and vice versa - meaning someone who is deafblind can communicate with their non hearing-impaired friends and family. Here's the video:
Amazing, right? A pretty simple smartphone app, based around a communication technique invented in the 1800s opening up communication across the Internet.
The app has two different interfaces, one for the deaf-blind person and another for the person they are communicating with.
The deafblind interface allows someone to type words by tapping the screen, the taps are interpreted as morse code, converted to words and sent to the other person. When the deafblind person receives a message the interface uses the phone's vibrate to relay the letters, a short vibrate for a dot and a longer one for a dash.
The other interface is pretty much a standard messaging app. The user can send and receive messages either by text or voice.
Good Vibes was developed in association with Sense International India. Sense are one of the few NGOs in India dedicated to helping the deafblind and sensitizing people about the disability.
It feels to me like an exciting time for advancements in mainstream technology that helps people with disabilities. This is a perfect example, I'm sure people have been using more code to communicate with deafblind people for a long time, but this making it available on everyday mainstream technology. We are seeing the same thing in the hearing aid industry: the technology has been around for a long time but it has always been in specialist "medical devices" but now we are seeing these being integrated with the technology with all use every day, i.e. smartphones.
Amazon's Echo Buds is another example of moving away from specialist medical equipment to using everyday common technology that just fits in with our daily lives. This will remove the stigma and barriers around disability, making it easier for people to accept their own hearing loss and do something positive about hearing more, unconcerned about how they might look.