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Haptic icons in mobile phones can help visual impaired users

29/07/2013
Posted by
nmadrid
10:55

An article entitled “Enhancing mobile phones for people with visual impairments through haptic icons: The effect of learning processes” was recently published in the Assistive Technology journal [1]. It reports a study performed by researchers from the University of Málaga and Technosite in Spain, pointing out the potential of using vibrotactile feedback for improving mobile phone use by people with visual impairments.

Nowadays, vibrations are used in mobile phone in a very simple way, as to launch alerts or notifications. However, modern smartphones can communicate much more complex information by modifying the intensity, duration or rhythm of the signal. The authors of this study developed an application for incoming call identification that communicated the caller id through different vibration patterns. The question was: Will visual impaired users be able to recognize vibrations and learn their association with different callers ID?

The results of the study showed that visual impaired users were not only able to learn the association between the different vibrations and their corresponding contacts, but also had a better performance and user experience than their sighted counterparts.

Therefore, the study supports the idea of using haptic icons to create new assistive technologies for people with visual impairments.

More information:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10400435.2012.715112

[1] Galdón-Conejo,P.M., Madrid,R.I., de la Rubia–Cuestas,E.J., Diaz-Estrella,A. & Gonzalez, L. (2013). Enhancing mobile phones for people with visual impairments through haptic icons: The effect of learning processes. Assistive Technology, 25 (2), 80-87.