Visual Empowerment Through Technology

Orion 18: Smartphone for the Visually Impaired

Client:     LevelStar

Awards:     GOOD Design (2011); Spark Award — Bronze (2011); ID Magazine Annual — Design Distinction (2011)

Make the world of smart phones accessible to the visually impaired


Due to their particular requirements, the blind community is often lacking appropriate personal electronic devices. Based on this, LevelStar, a provider of assistive technologies for the blind, partnered with RKS to design a new communication platform in this category. The partners envisioned the creation of an innovative communication device designed for the specific needs of blind people.


Identified aspirational needs and ideal ergonomics for intuitive use of the digital braille interface

To better understand user needs and aspirations, RKS conducted in-depth interviews and prototype testing with a diverse range of blind users. The overall goal was to identify ideal ergonomics for intuitive operation of a braille interface as well as unique navigational, input, and display constraints. Working with a team of specialized developers, these insights were then translated and implemented into a distinctive system design that empowers blind users to successfully enter the digital world.


An 18 cell braille display opens up the world of digital data with just a touch


The final design harmonizes with the needs and wants of visually impaired users leveraging a full 18-cell braille display and an input interface that makes communication, web browsing and content creation simple and intuitive.