• 05/12/2022
  • 10

How product design is re-shaping experiences for the visually impaired

Contemporary product design has been evolving over a period to become more inclusive and accessible for people with various needs. Designers have been working with an evolved purpose to design for sections that have different abilities. One such area has been to empower the visually impaired. Along with technological capabilities and collaboration with scientists, engineers, doctors and many other professions, design professionals are brewing some innovative and disruptive product designs that help people with different types of visual abilities. This can range from working with form, shape and texture to offering an assistive technology within the product.

Here are some interesting product designs that are aiming to bring brand new experience for the visually impaired population:

HUEPIN: Texture Buttons

Designers Ang Yong Jun, Huang YuChen, Lai LiWen and Chu Pin Yan won iF Design Talent Award, 2022 for their HUEPIN. HUEPIN offers the visually imapired different shapes and textures on buttons to help them identify and understand what colour clothes they are wearing. By a simple touch they can identify what colour they are wearing and build their own unique style by slowly learning on colour palettes and combinations.

These buttons can be simply purchased separately and attached to any piece of clothing one already owns. This can help the visually impaired to colour-coordinate their clothes and feel the colours in the form of textures and shapes. The visually impaired now, with a little practice and help, can form their own fashion style. Isn’t that wonderful news?

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Vitar: Electric guitar with Braille Fretboard

Oh yes, you heard it right. This makes learning a new instrument easier for the visually impaired.

Designers Eojin Roh, Seonjin Baek and Yujeong Shin designed an Electric guitar and made the entire fretboard with Braille keys. This helps the visually impaired and blind people find their way around a guitar easily. Vitar isn’t only designed to be an electric guitar, it also has potential to unlock a lot more in the electronic music world.

Each key on the fretboard has Braille letters embossed on it, which allows the users to navigate around the instrument. A great example of how a simple detail can go a long way to radically improve a product experience and make it more inclusive. Its asymmetric shape also helps the users to easily understand which way the instrument is supposed to be played. Its Braille keys make the learning process so easy that it is now possible to learn the keys with the press of a button.

Also interesting to read: 5 Sci-fi inspired automotive design trends

Dot Tablet

Brand Dot Inc. designed this innovative Dot Pad tablet that offers the visually impaired to see images with their fingertips. Dot Pad is an innovative product solution that works on an inclusive approach opening doors for visually impaired to enjoy more of the world around them.

With the use of technology available to us today and some keen innovative minds, visually impaired people can now enjoy images without having to depend only on voice-overs or text. While we are all glued to modern technology and digital content + artifacts, people with vision problems do not have full access to all these resources. Dot Inc. has developed a tablet that allows for them to feel the images and pictures and not rely heavily on translation over text using braille or voice overs.

Since the blind have a heightened sense of hearing and touch, their ability to feel the textures matches the ability for other people who can see sufficiently. Making use of this incredible skill the Dot Inc. tablet offers the visually impaired ability to feel the images on their fingertips. What is unique about Dot Pad is that it offers a large area with 2400 dots and a small area -as required for the image. This offers its consumers to form the correct idea of the picture in their minds rather than relying on descriptions.

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Nick Fitzpatrick designed an award-winning way to brew tea. Coined Inclusivitea, this inclusive kettle allows the visually impaired and people with other disabilities to easily brew their own tea.

Inclusivitea won the Lakeland Design Award for re-imaging how a normal kettle would function. Nick designed a kettle that allows its user to easily carry and use the product. This product has handles on both sides and comes with its own stand, it helps your brew and directly pour the tea into your container. This kettle tries to cover two key problem areas for differently abled people – the pouring and the filling. Its two handlebars shaped arms make the kettle easy to carry and for filling. Comes with a plug point to dock the kettle and plug in a power outlet to begin brewing the tea. It comes as a set of a kettle and stand, a tiny cup, an assortment of containers for storing sugar cubes, tea bags, spices, or creamer.

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Sense Five: Smart walking stick

Designed by Werteloberfell, this smart walking stick uses real-time image recognition that helps the visually impaired to see for them and be more mindful of their surroundings when walking. The stick comes with sensors integrated into its handle and communicates with its users to make them aware of what’s around them. The stick design is ‘7-shaped’, this angled design allows the user to hold it in a way that the stick leans forward allowing the user to be mindful of the walking space.

There is a camera on the front that works to actively capture images and recognize objects or obstacles in the way and alerts the users through the handle. It also has a torch option to use at night.  The handle for this stick is designed well keeping it slim, elegant, effective, and stealthy. The handle also communicates to the user when it’s low on battery.

This smart stick is also helpful to alert the people around the users of the user’s presence. The torchlight option at night can be very useful to make the vehicles or people around be aware of the user’s presence.

Also interesting to read: Apple Electric car project: What to expect from its design

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