Alibaba’s research and development arm, Damo Academy, collaborated with China’s Tsinghua University to introduce the 'Smart Touch' sheet to improve the use of mobile devices by those with vision impairments. The Smart Touch plastic sheet is sensory-enabled, which means that pressing its buttons triggers certain commands, such as "confirm" or "go back."
With the Smart Touch sheet on one's mobile device, shopping becomes a simplified process. Although the Smart Touch is a valuable tool for reducing the amount of clicks needed to browse or make a purchase, it also allows users to text when a phone is held to the ear. This functionality, according to Alibaba, cuts the time needed to complete tasks like taking calls and shopping online by 50%.
As the device is so inexpensive to produce, Alibaba plans to distribute its Smart Touch sheet for free through its brick-and-mortar outlets.