Bluetooth Braile Keyboard for Apple iOS & Symbian Phones:
Harpo's BraillePen is a Bluetooth braille keyboard that enables blind persons to control their desktop PC or tablet, Apple iOS device, or Symbian mobile phone.
There are two models: the BraillePen Slim, and the BraillePen 12, which also has a 12-cell refreshable display and a joystick for navigation.
To use the BraillePen, a device must be equipped with a screen reader, such as VoiceOver -- built into all Apple products -- or popular PC accessibility applications, including JAWS for Windows, Window-Eyes, or Dolphin Supernova.
The BraillePen 12 works with Apple's iPad, iPod touch (generation 3 and 4) and iPhone 3GS and 4. The BraillePen Slim works with devices running iOS 4.3 or higher. Use either BraillePen to control a desktop Mac or PC.
Using the BraillePen
BraillePen's wireless connectivity enables users to keep their Windows, iOS or Symbian mobile device in their pocket and operate it with just the keyboard -- a plus for blind users who find navigating with hand gestures difficult.
Screen reader compatibility makes it easy to dictate written content. The joystick on the BraillePen 12 provides navigation options and makes document review more intuitive and efficient.
The BraillePen enables users to move forward or backward between icons, change rotor settings (on iOS devices), open apps, and press the Home key. The keyboard provides automatic braille-to-text translation for composing email, text messages, and entering web addresses.
The BraillePan 12 enables users execute screen reader commands with the joystick or braille keyboard.
With Apple's VoiceOver, for example, you can say "Move to the next item," move the joystick to the right, or press the spacebar + dot 4.
Using MobileSpeak, you can move to the next line either with a downward push of the joystick or by pressing Space + dot 4.
On a Nokia Symbian phone, pressing dots 3 + 4 replaces the Star (*) key; and users press Ctrl + 4 to end a call.
You can download user guides (as PDF files) for the BraillePen 12 and BraillePen Slim from Harpo's website.
BraillePen 12 Specifications
The BraillePen 12 measures 5.9 x 3.8 x .85 inches and weighs 9.2 ounces. When fully charged (a three-hour cycle) its internal battery lasts through 12 hours of work or several weeks on standby. BraillePen 12 is compatible with:
- Windows Mobile
- Apple OSX 10.5 (Leopard) and 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
- iPhone 4
- Dolphin Pen, Supernova, and Pocket Hal (both keyboard and braille display)
- Window-Eyes and JAWS, display only using Voyager drivers
- Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 as a Bluetooth keyboard
BraillePen Slim Specifications
BraillePen Slim measures 5.8 x 3 x .9 inches and weighs 6.35 ounces. When fully charged (a four-hour cycle) -- its internal battery lasts through 10 hours of work, or several weeks on standby.
BraillePen Slim is compatible with:
- Pocket Hal
- Dolphin Pen and Supernova
- Windows Mobile
- Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 with BraillePen Write software
Both BraillePens come with the following accessories:
- Travel pouch
- Battery charger
- Instructions in multiple formats
- Optional USB Bluetooth adapter
- BraillePen Write software
BraillePen Bluetooth Connectivity
The BraillePens support most Bluetooth technologies, whether it's built into a device, or -- as with a PC or netbook -- as a USB-connected add-on.
Bluetooth connectivity is automatic on Apple devices and Windows PDAs and phones running BraillePen Mobile software. It's manual on Nokia phones running SymbianOS.
On a Windows PC or netbook (XP or higher) the four Bluetooth providers supported by the Microsoft drivers are:
- Blue Soleil.
The BraillePen 12 with a 12 cell-braille display costs $995. The BraillePen Slim is costs $299.