Visionary Inventions: 13 Bold Designs for the Blind

Those of us who aren’t visually impaired take for granted simple everyday actions like navigating unfamiliar places, reading bus schedules, telling the time or distinguishing between spices when cooking. These innovative gadget concepts use a combination of tactile displays, sensors, Bluetooth technology and apps to make the world a more accessible place for people who are unable to see, ranging from simple braille adaptations to cutting-edge neuroscience.

Invisual Tactile iPhone Case

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This stretchy silicone casing for the iPhone covers the entire phone, front and back, replacing the glass screen with a tactile pad. Used along with an accompanying app, the phone offers special accessibility functions like text-to-speech as well as all the usual apps and programs you find on an iPhone.

Munivo: Wearable Silicone Guide

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Distance sensors on this wearable gadget that wraps around the palm like jewelry guide the visually impaired toward a particular destination using actuators in the silicone film that’s in contact with the skin. The sensations include pressure, temperature and vibration, alerting the wearer whether to stop, turn right or left, or to be aware of the road widening or narrowing.

Section Cooking Surface

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Braille-like raised textures on this cooking mat let you know where the cooking surfaces are, and then keep track of how hot they’re getting with sounds. The designer converted the typical stove eye dial from circular to linear for easier use.

Touch and Go Navigation

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Another ultrasonic navigation device fits onto the top of the hand and pairs with a Bluetooth headset, sensing obstacles and letting the wearer know their location via sound and as a relief map on the face of the gadget, both telling them where to go and showing their position on the map in respect to their destination.

Braille Spice Jars

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Differences in shape and texture, as well as braille letters, identify salt, pepper and various spices in this set of jars for the visually impaired. The designer split spices into ‘mediterranean’ and ‘oriental’ groups, giving each one a unique shape. The teardrop-shaped salt and pepper shakers are distinguishable from each other using matte or smooth surfaces. Each little pod fits ergonomically into the palm of the hand and is easy to refill.