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Samsung's new Ultrasonic phone cover guides the visually impaired
Samsung announced today three new smartphone accessories that could improve the life of people with visual impairment, including an ultrasonic cover that alerts users of the presence of obstacles. The accessories are compatible with the Galaxy Core Advance, a budget-friendly 4.7-incher that Samsung introduced in December.
The Ultrasonic Cover for the Core Advance senses the presence of objects or persons in front of the user, from a distance of up to two meters. When an obstacle is detected, the device alerts the user (via the phone) through vibration or through synthesized speech. Details are sketchy for now, but Samsung says users only need to hold the phone with the Ultrasonic Cover in front of them to use it. It’s unlikely that this sonar-like technology will allow blind people to orientate themselves without a cane or a guide dog, but it’s still a great way to increase quality of life, which is always welcome.
Using the Optical Scan Stand, Galaxy Core Advance users can have their phone detect text on paper and read it out aloud. That’s presumably possible using a special optical character recognition application. When the Core Advance’s camera detects that a new document was put on the stand, it can automatically start reading it aloud.
Finally, Voice Label appears to be a NFC label that users can stick on various objects. Moving the phone over a Voice Label will play pre-recorded notes or instructions. This seems like minor functionality, but for people depending heavily on their sense of hearing, Voice Labels could be a real helper.
Samsung’s Galaxy Core accessories are already available, according to Samsung, though the company did not specify their geographical availability. The accessories will come to more Galaxy devices in the future.