Utrofon: Mobile Help For The Blind

Main problem of visually impaired and blind people is the impossibility of using city and buildings infrastructure without help of another person. Such people find it difficult to orient themselves in space, find the necessary building, read shop plates and understand the work of different public services. Nonetheless, relatives and social services can be with them twenty-four seven to help them.

The entrepreneurs Michael Zotov and Igor Mochalov from city Perm devised how to solve this problem. In 2013 they created a remote-assisting service, that was an add Utrofon, which allows blind people to get around the city.

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As the developers of operational systems have already taken care of smartphone accessibility for people with bad eyesight, createing a voice assisting interface TalkBack on Android and VoiceOver on iOS,  Utrofon did not hesitate about developing an app for people with eyesight impairment. The app is integrated with Google TalkBack and at present works only on Android-smartphones. The version for iOS is still being developed. The second part of the service is a computer program that is used by call center operators or users’ relatives/friends.

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How Utrofon works:

  • A person with eyesight impairment has Android-smartphone with activated 3G и 4G (LTE) technology. Using a voice call or pressing the volume button a person can call an assistant. The person can choose a social worker or a relative as a remote assistant. The assistant does not need to be physically present: the assistance can be conducted through the Internet.
  • The assistant receives a call and the camera on the blind person’s phone switches on. Built-in GPS sensor allows to identify the location of the phone user. Then the operator finds out the goal of the call.
  • Watching the video on the screen of his phone or mobile, the assistant gives the necessary tips.
  • Utrofon service can be used for space orientation, help while choosing products or reading prices in shops, understanding the announcements, using household appliances, paying the bills etc. The app also has an “emergency” button, so if in case of an emergency the assistant does not answer, the call will be redirected to call-center operator who is always online.  

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The project has its own call center, which is really worth mentioning. But only wheelchair users can apply for such a job. In such a way, Utrofon help them to realize their right for work and economical independence.

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