Researchers Develop Prototype Braille Tablet

Americas, News, January 18 2016

Researchers at the University of Michigan unveiled a new prototype Braille tablet that makes it possible for people who are blind or have low vision to read text on a full display. The tablet itself features fully refreshable pages containing raised bumps, a marked improvement from current devices that can only display one line of Braille text at a time.

prototype Braille tabletProfessor Dr. Sile O’Modhrain, researchers at the University of Michigan are also planning to add the ability for people who are blind or have low vision to ‘read’ graphs, photographs and other non-text items.

“What we’re trying to build in this project is full-page tactile screen for something like a Kindle or an iPad where you could just display refreshable text in real time,” O’Modhrain said. “Relative to what’s done today and how that’s done, it’s a complete paradigm shift.”

“When you’re learning to read and write, it’s hard to find a substitute for physically encountering text – whether it’s in visual or tactile form,” O’Modhrain said. ”There are many studies that show that listening to something is not the same as reading it.”

“We use the equivalent of electronic logic and circuitry,” Russomanno said. “When I say that, I’m referring to the way a computer works, with transistors and resistors. Except our circuit is not electronic at all. It’s fluidic. Instead of high voltage and low voltage you have high pressure and low pressure, and instead of electric current flow you have fluid flow and you can achieve the same basic logic features.”

Like the 0s and 1s that undergird computing, Braille is a binary code. Each Braille cell, which is sometimes a letter and sometimes a whole word, contains six dots that can either be raised or flat to convey different information.

“The dots are either there or they’re not,” O’Modhrain said. “That’s why this circuit is so elegant.”

Watch the video below:

 

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