LG ‘Loop’ concept phone uses thermal Braille display for the visually impaired

Mobile technology these days is developing at ever faster speeds that usually (but not always) leave the visually impaired behind, so it’s good to see this new “Loop” concept handset aimed at making it intuitive to use your mobile phone without having to see it with your eyes. Birthed out of a competition held by LG and Autodesk, the Loop is the brainchild of designer Andres Parada. Rather than use keypads and large, colorful displays, the Loop makes use of a dial wheel and a heat-conducting Braille display. The idea is certainly geeky and high-tech, and it gives us something to look forward to in the future.

The Loop is made to be worn around the neck or clipped to a shirt pocket. The handset has simple controls – on/off button, dial wheel, and a clip. There’s also a removable Bluetooth headset built into the phone. The headset has the Braille thermal display and the microphone and earpiece. From the looks of it, the user can identify incoming callers by sliding their finger across the Braille display and translating the various dots of heat into a word or name. Dialing is made simple with a scroll wheel that’s supposed to be more intuitive than any keypad could ever be to someone with vision problems.

Still, as much as we’d love to see the Loop become a reality for mobile phone subscribers with impaired vision, it’s not likely that we’ll see a thermally-conductive OLED display used to display the Braille alphabet anytime soon. Of course, we could just see this LG Loop becoming a reality in a couple years’ time. What do you think?

[Via: TheDesignBlog]

  • @somaJohn

    Actually this may be a great way to send messages discreetly: In class, during business meetings, in church, et al. Are we looking at Morse code 2.0?

  • Tara

    This is great news for the visually impaired community!

    Braille Institute of America, Inc http://www.brailleinstitute.org

  • Doug Parisian

    On the surface, Braille sounds like a good idea but unfortunately, even as a Braille user, I see the impracticality of such a costly design in broad market terms. Seems to me that speech output would give the product much more credibility.

    • Rebecca Skipper

      I share your sentiment about the prohibitive cost of braille displays, but I think it would be a better alternative than speech. However, we can't assume that all visually impaired users are Braille readers so it would be better to develop two device to meet diverse user needs. I'm hopeful that the price per Braille cell will decrease overtime and look forwward to the day when multiline Braille displays replace current linear models.u

  • tanya

    With increasing aging population, many people who became blind at adulthood may not know Braille at all. With advancing technology, OCR, speech and text-to-speech [TTS] software made Braille redundant . in advanced countries, Braille advocates are lamenting drop in Braille literacy due to availability of high tech solutions. as someone who became blind at adulthood, I’d rather have a TTS and speech recognition phone with keys for typing . a screen is not necessary for the blind, but if the low visioned is included, I suppose they would rather prefer to use vision augmented with speech

Back to top ▴