The first app for the blind to operate a smart phone is on sale today. Georgie, which makes Google's mobile operating system Android easier to see or control with your voice, is available to download or pre-installed on phones including the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Creator Roger Wilson-Hinds, who is registered blind, named the service after his wife's first guide dog. Georgie makes the interface larger and clearer to see for the blind or partially sighted, and allows you to do more by speaking or listening to the phone. The large coloured blocks make Android look more like Windows Phone, making it easier to see than the small icons of most smart phones.
The app makes it easy to call pre-set phone numbers that can be altered online, use voice commands to send texts and map out saved locations such as safe places to cross the road.
One of the cleverest features is the use of optical character recognition, which allows the phone to read things for you. The camera captures text that you encounter while you're out and about, such as on signs or timetables or menus, and turns it into larger and clearer text or reads it out to you. The images are saved so you can come back to them later.
The app costs £150 from Google Play, the Android app store. Uniquely, Georgie is more than just an app though -- you can also have it set up for you by buying a phone pre-loaded with the app from accessibility experts Sight and Sound Technology.
You can choose from a range of Samsung Galaxy phones: the Samsung Galaxy Y, Galaxy Ace 2, waterproof and drop-proof Galaxy XCover or the top-end Samsung Galaxy S3. Prices start at £300 for the Galaxy Y without a SIM card, going up to £650 for the S3.
Various add-ons are also available for an extra £25, giving you extra travel, lifestyle or communication options.