Apple announced the launch of the iPhone 4 today (July in Canada). Obviosuly, it creates great excitement in the tech community (guilty as charged, being a consummate early adopter*).
I do, however, think that one community—one who overal rarely gets emotional about new techno gizmos–will get a real kick out of this new product. I’m referring to the community of deaf people (properly known as the hearing impaired).
Toast has been working for years with a fantastic Montreal-based organisation focused on adapted communications, the Centre de communication adaptée, or CCA**. It develops many various projects aimed directly at the community of deaf people (Francosourd social networking site, gear and accessories store, involment of deaf people in the development of websites for associated organisations, etc.). As a matter of fact, we are projecting, in conjunction with the CCA, the completion for 2010 of an online resource directory to provide once hard to find information.
They have been waiting for many years the appearance of a mobile video chat solution that would allow them to communicate in sign language. HTC did offer solutions (The Touch series) that got close, but the uptake rate was so low that few providers or deaf people got on board.
The iPhone4, announced today, completely changes the picture, with the inclusion of a second camera on the front facing. The FaceTime app might be the long awaited gateway to a new world of possibilities! In fact, official Apple video mentions it (towards the end).
We very rarely speak of the community of deaf people, and I do hope that they will be heard (pun intended), assuming fast acceptance of the new iPhone.
Until we can try it with them, we wait.
*When the first iPhone was launched, I bought one on eBay and traveled Montreal-US and back to get it from the seller, whom I had to meet in a gas station off the New York Interstate. Recently, I went round trip to get an iPad at a Best Buy store in the small Vermont town of Williston.
** Transparency : I am a member of the CCA Board of trustees.