VIRGINIA, USA — A new mobile phone, called “Lucia,” vocalizes everything. Every movement through the menu, every action, and every moment is talked out loud -- that includes contacts, texts, and phone calls.
RAZ Mobility, a Virginia-based technology company, and CEO Robert Felgar are the ones behind this product. The company’s work focuses on helping people who aren’t able to use a standard smartphone, specifically seniors.
“This is meant to make life easier and give them a level of safety, as well,” Felgar said. “If something happens and they need help, they’re lost or so forth, they can call a friend or family member to help them.”
Current smartphones also offer voice-assistants and other commands to help, but Lucia is tactile – something seniors can touch, feel, and use to accomplish simple goals.
“While someone who’s 30 and blind is very motivated and has the time and inclination to learn new technology, it’s much more difficult if you’re 75 or 85,” Felgar said.
The idea for Lucia came up for Felgar after realizing there was a need for a basic cellphone for blind people. After partnering with a Swizz company, called Enterus, to manufacture the phone, the development of the phone took about two years to finish. Eventually, Felgar saw this an opportunity to help people with other disabilities, not just blindness.
“If you were blind and bought a basic mobile phone 10 years ago, before smartphones… there was no independence because the phone didn’t talk yet,” he said. “What this phone does is talk.”
Easy access to phones is a difficult reality for a lot of Americans. According to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), almost 27 million adults reported having some sort of vision loss.
The phone works with just about every wireless provider available right now and is only available on the company website, priced at $299.00. However, several state and federal agencies provide the phone for free to people with disabilities.