Book of Condolence - In memory of Torsten Brand
Torsten Brand born 1963, whose pioneering work helped make mobile phones accessible to the blind and partially sighted, died unexpectedly aged just 47 on April 13th 2010 in Göttingen Germany following complications during minor surgery.
From his early days as a student of Mathematics at Hannover University, Torsten enjoyed working on the cutting edge of assistive technology, first under CP/M, and then using MS-DOS, at a time when refreshable Braille was still new. He developed the BW-PRO Braille driver for DOS, and later the HBSBUCH converter for creating on-screen eBooks from Braille-formatted content.
Since 1994 Torsten collaborated in the design of ProTalk and ProTalk32 by Biolink, one of the first screen readers for Windows 3.11 and Windows NT, and still widely used to provide access by blind operators to corporate phone systems. Later Torsten specialized in adaptive scripting of screen readers for custom applications under Windows.
In 2002, Torsten founded Brand and Groeber Communications in collaboration with Marcus Groeber, following the pairs successful experiments with a talking screen reader on the Nokia 9110 Communicator a year earlier.
"Since the Nokia 9000/9110 models are often forgotten in smartphone history, I always find it remarkable in hindsight that this was the device that made us believe in the feasibility of a mobile screen reader in the first place..." (Marcus Groeber 15th April 2010).
Ultimately the two successfully created the World's first stable, functional mobile phone screen reader for the Nokia Series 80 devices, and thereafter, developed Talks further to provide for speech to the Nokia S60 device range.
The product was so successful that it was ultimately acquired by Nuance Communications, with the original duo of Torsten and Marcus continuing to act as product manager and developer respectively.
A blind person himself, Torsten used the product he managed on a day to day bases, and as a result of this, worked hard to make it the best it could be. Through his efforts, Torsten has improved the lives of many tens of thousands of blind people throughout the world.
Torsten's enthusiasm for his product went far beyond simply ensuring that it worked. He believed in developing the optimum product for the purpose, constantly considering the user interface, feature set and core stability.
If you can leave this world a better place than you found it, in whatever endeavour you pursue, your life has been worthwhile. Torsten led a most worthwhile, and worthy life. He has earned his place in the history of assistive technology.
As well as his ever lasting legacy of adaptive technology to which we have been left, Torsten also leaves behind a wife and four children, to whom our heartfelt feelings of deepest loss go out to.
Torsten will be laid to rest at Knesebeck Cemetery - Germany, at 4pm local time on the 15th of April 2010.
It is our hope to celebrate and honour this truly remarkable and dedicated pioneer of accessible technology through our signing of this condolence book. We would ask that if you have benefited from Torsten's work that you help us honour his memory through signing and leaving a comment.
We shall be having entries printed and placed into a book of condolence which we shall then have sent to Torsten's family.
This page gives you the opportunity to express your condolences to Torsten's family, friends and colleagues.
To view the messages that have already been submitted please Click Here
The Memorial fund in memory of Torsten Brand, Assistive Technology pioneer.