Researchers at Georgia Tech in Atlanta are taking texting to a new level with an app that enables vision impaired people to utilize Braille on their mobile devices. At the same time, the app could be used by people who want to text while driving or walking – or sitting in a meeting – and don’t have to take their eyes off the road, sidewalk or other people.

It’s called the Braille Touch app.

And it’s free. 

“Research has shown that chorded, or gesture-based, texting is a viable solution for eyes-free written communication in the future, making obsolete the need for users to look at their devices while inputting text on them,” said Mario Romero, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Interactive Computing who is the project’s principal investigator.

The app, developed with open source technology, utilizes the Braille writing system.

It’s also believed to be a texting tool by smartphone phone users

“Early studies with visually impaired participants proficient in Braille typing have demonstrated that users can input at least six times the number of words per minute when compared to other research prototypes for eyes-free texting on a touch screen,” Georgia Tech says. “Users reach up to 32 words per minute with 92 percent accuracy with the prototype app for the iPhone.”

Further study is underway, the school says.

“We are currently designing a study to formally evaluate BrailleTouch through both quantitative and qualitative methods,” said Caleb Southern, a Tech graduate student. “We will measure the typing speed and accuracy of visually impaired users and capture the feedback from study participants in areas such as comfort, ease of use and perceived value.”

The app could replace regular QWERTY keyboards for what Tech describes as a “universal eyes-free mobile texting app.”

For more about the app, read here.

Watch a YouTube video here.

Get the latest news alerts: Follow LTW at Twitter.