Samsung isn’t limiting itself to software when it comes to improving its mobile hardware’s accessibility – the Korean company has introduced a trio of new accessories for the Galaxy Core Advance mid-range device that beefs up its existing ability to cater to visually and otherwise impaired users.
There’s the Ultrasonic Cover, which can detect obstacles in the environment using ultrasound; the Optical Scan Stand, which automates the process of scanning and reading back documents via optical character recognition (OCR); and finally the Voice Label, which uses NFC to let users record notes and affix them to certain objects for automatic playback when the phone comes near them.
The cover can sense people or objects at a distance of up to two meters away, and then send an alert through the phone to the user via vibration or text-to-speech feedback. This could make it easy for visually impaired smartphone owners to navigate unfamiliar spaces. The cover adds a considerable hump to the top of the phone, but otherwise doesn’t appear to change its dimensions too much.
The Optical Scan Stand is a large prop for the smartphone that positions the device parallel to the table or surface on which it stands. You can then put a document in the bottom of the stand, and the phone will automatically begin “reading” it using OCR and translating it to speech, again handy for visually impaired users. And because it’s automatic, it doesn’t require any interaction with on-screen software and should be great for solo use.
Finally the Voice Label is essentially a small NFC tag that can provide helpful notes or reminders about objects stored around the house, which could be handy when a user is in a new environment or introduces new things to their existing environment.
The Galaxy Core Advance already has onboard tools like a light sensing app, instant voice recording and a voice guided camera to address usability and accessibility, but these hardware add-ons really show Samsung is committed to provided the best phone experience possible for those who might ordinarily find smartphone operation frustrating. The company is sometimes criticized for splitting its focus in too many directions, but this is one case where that’s definitely a virtue.