Nigerian students design software for visually impaired mobile users

Obafemi Awolowo University engineering students have built Humane – an app to make smartphone features more accessible to the blind.

Four electrical and electronics students from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Victor Shoaga, Ayodele Obasegun, Oyatope Blessing and Otaru Babatunde have designed Humane. The software platform connects visually impaired smartphone users to the applications and functionalities they are normally unable to access.

The software works in conjunction with a manual controller, which allows visually impaired users to select music files, play the audio on videos, surf the web, set or check the time and more.

The manual controller has two joysticks for scrolling and a central “select” button, making its operation easy.

The software is downloaded into the user’s phone and the user is given the controller and a corresponding identification number. The number is entered into the software for compatibility with the controller; meaning only one controller is able to work with one device. The device connects to the smartphone using Bluetooth.

Where innovations that cater to the blind such as Blitab and Dot offer visually impaired customers an entirely new, Braille capable device, these OAU students propose a technology that can be installed onto an existing smartphone to make the device user-friendly for the visually impaired.

The software and the controller are both currently in the prototype stage so the designers are facing some early challenges. The software is currently only available for Windows Phones and though the controller works, it is too bulky.