If you’re anything like me, scary movies can be absolutely paralyzing. One of the few rays of hope though in any hostage or terrorist scene is when the daring young character pulls out his or her cell phone and feels around on the buttons to call 911 or text for help. But, with the advent of touch screen phones, performing this feat becomes all but impossible. And, I have to admit that when I first got a touch screen phone, this thought was one of the first to cross my mind.

Beyond these rare and, I’ll admit, fantastical scenarios, operating a cell phone by touch is something that the visually impaired deal with on a daily basis and is something that the pervasiveness of touch screens is threatening to eliminate… until now. New technology has been developed that will allow blind people to text using touchscreen devices.

Researchers from Georgia Tech have developed Brailletouch, an app soon to be released for Android and iPhone mobile devices, which uses a system that is controlled with six fingers and does not require any hand movement. Typing brail is apparently a lot easier to master than reading brail and leading developer Mario Romero noted that his team learned in a matter of hours. It’s even been found that typing with Brailletouch is up to six times faster than existing methods for texting without sight. In fact, the LA Times reported that user tests conducted by the Georgia Tech researchers found that some visually impaired people were able to reach up to 32 words per minute with 92 percent accuracy with a prototype app for the iPhone. Check out the YouTube video to see how it works.

While this innovative app may be a lifesaver for the visually impaired, it can also present a way for others to use touch screens while otherwise occupied. Although not acceptable for use behind the wheel, this technology could prove useful in other scenarios and I may even download it myself in case I ever find myself in one of those gripping hostage situations like you see in the movies.

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