That's Flawesome: Use and Usability
Not too long ago, we stumbled across a blog that caught our attention. Started by three friends with backgrounds in industrial design and art direction, That's Flawesome came across as a much-needed reminder that not all designs are created equal, no matter how visually pleasing they appear to be. Each blog entry focused on a particular design to focus on, and what we especially liked was the way these guys balanced constructive criticism with useful suggestions and, of course, a sense of humor. Clearly, these guys were excited about design, and instead of picking each project apart, they approached their critique from a sense of fairness and joy, hence the name That's Flawesome.
We are excited to feature That's Flawesome on the Coroflot blog because we appreciate their honesty and insight when it comes to the design world. Remember that each entry is written in good fun and entirely subjective. The critiques presented by That's Flawesome do not reflect the opinions of the Coroflot team, although we do find them to be entertaining. We hope you enjoy!
Textura is a concept created by Isa Velarde, intended to function as a smartphone for the visually impaired.
It provides a surface for interacting through the braille medium, essentially raising and lowering a series of movable pins beneath what appears to be a fabric surface. I would recommend taking a look at the actual concept, it's quite well rendered and presented.
The idea here is to create an interface which functions as a touchscreen, without the actual pixels. This allows those with visual impairments (and who know braille) to interact with this device in a matter similar to smartphones.
In order to help evaluate this concept, let's consider what exists now.
The BraillePen is a keyboard-based device that connects to current smartphones via Bluetooth, and functions as a two-way interface device. It also has a 12-character braille display which ensures crisp, clear reading as well as a system to keep memos and other notes. I don't know whether the BraillePen works without having the paired smartphone out, but if it did so much the better.
Graphiti, features a full 9.7x6.4 inch display area composed of 40x60 equally spaced pins, in addition to having an amazing name. These pins (in addition to the below buttons) allow richer interaction for a closer experience to Textura.
The other existing solutions require interactions that are focused on the interactions that compose reading or writing braille. Further, there's no explanation as to how the Textura might be engineered, not even a rough schematic.
The BraillePen and Graphiti both implement mechanical components (keys and braille pins) and have product sizes that are indicative of the mechanical components (and battery) required. However, we're left with a big question mark as to how all of this high technology might work.
And assuming the design of Textura is adequately feasible, there are still regulatory issues to consider. For instance, the Standards for Braille Embossed on Paper (listed here) give specific dimensional requirements for braille implementations, which aren't reflected in Textura as far as I can tell. This indicates that any new user of Textura will have to learn a new style of interaction, which is well outside of the typical standards developed for people with visual impairments.
Essentially, the design concept falls short in two ways: Understanding current standards and technology, and assuming that people in this market are looking for an experience similar to smartphones.
If this product's tactile surface were relocated to a smartphone that's already tailored to people with visual impairments, I can see it functioning as a supplemental interface.
Article written by Daniel Louder
For more That's Flawesome visit their website!