The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) has just announced their IDEA 2006 awards for excellence in design, and paddle-shaped phones appear to be all the rage this year -- Samsung has been tapped in the "Design Explorations" category with their oddball Touch Messenger device for the blind. Typically, SMS-capable devices for the blind have involved text to speech, which, as IDSA points out, is a bummer for privacy not to mention generally defeating the purpose of text messaging to begin with. No word on production prospects, but IDSA does mention that the Touch Messenger "gives blind users in China an affordable, user-friendly cell phone experience on par with sighted users," so it sounds like we can expect this or a similar device in the pipeline -- at least for China.

[Via Telecoms Korea]

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Braille via SMS: Samsung's Touch Messenger