Braille breakthrough

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Researchers from the University of Michigan, USA have developed technology that may soon lead to a refreshable Braille tablet the size of a Kindle

The team from Michigan Engineering and the School of Music, Theater and Dance has developed a technology that relies on the pneumatic use of liquid or air to inflate or deflate bubbles, which in turn push dots up and down creating the patterns that form Braille.

While refreshable Braille displays already exist they are electro-mechanical devices, which means that page displays are large and cumbersome. As a result mobile devices usually display one line of text at a time, but despite this limitation they are still very expensive.

A single line of braille typically costs between three and five thousand dollars and a full-page braille display would costs somewhere in the region of $55,000

Michigan researcher Professor Sile O’Modhrain explains.

An additional problem with single-line devices is that they cannot display graphs, spreadsheets or any kind of spatially distributed information. This is a major obstacle for any blind person who relies on information that is traditionally presented in this form.

The Michigan team’s aim is to create a device capable of displaying the equivalent of a page of Kindle text at once and that is substantially cheaper.

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