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10 February 2021
Making it easier for blind people to use smartphones, the Hable One is a pocket-sized keyboard and controller with eight buttons. It connects to iOS and Android using Bluetooth and allows users to write and edit texts, navigate through applications and use shortcuts.
Those with vision impairments can use voice-to-text, but that negates any privacy in public spaces. Not an option for private or intimate conversations! And while Google created a virtual braille keyboard for Android phones last year, it lacks the tactility that many users prefer for speed and precision.
Cofounder Ayushman Talwar grew up in Bangalore, where he routinely helped his blind grandfather with everyday tasks. When the iPhone first appeared, Talwar recognized both its possibilities and limitations for blind users. He started working on a wireless braille keyboard as part of a Hackaday project in 2017. Three years later, the Hable One was ready to be trialed by users, and it's now available for preorder for EUR 199 (or EUR 249 once the product starts shipping), with delivery scheduled for April 2021.
Access to the same technology everyone else uses should be a given. Our first thought on spotting Hable was — wait: surely this already exists?! The fact that it didn't, shows how much room there is for innovations like Hable, either by passionate entrepreneurs like Talwar and his cofounders (all three started working on Hable while studying at Eindhoven University of Technology), or by the tech behemoths themselves.