Researchers develop full screen monitor for the blind
Autor: Siobhan Hayes
04/06/2010, 09:47 CET
Websites and other information on the computer are only accessible to the blind to a limited extent. "Current electronic Braille displays generally only display one line of text and are very expensive", explains Neil Di Spinga, research assistant at the North Carolina State University (NC State). Together with colleagues, he intends to help in the form of an inexpensive full screen display for showing Braille text.
Here, the team is focusing on electro-active polymers as a material for the new Braille display. The material will allow us to raise dots to the right height so they can be read ", explains Peichung Yang, a blind researcher involved in the project. Thus, texts and images can be distinguished by touch at practical screen refresh rates.
Until now, the NC State Display is still just a concept, but with the aid of an electro-active polymer, it is to become a reality. First, the correct pixels are raised hydraulically in order to display a tangible text. In order to ensure that the dots do not sink under the pressure from the fingers during reading, the team is using a mechanical locking solution.
"The material responds very quickly so that a reader can scroll quickly through a document or website ", says Yang. Furthermore, the display would not only be suitable for displaying text in Braille. Images can also be reproduced in tactile format in that the pixels are represented suitably by raised dots.
As the first step in this direction, the researchers have shown that the hydraulic raising of the pixels works. Locking will follow and within a year, a functional prototype of the entire mechanism should be produced. Using this, the scientists wish to clear the way for a large display.
Conceptual illustration of the Braille display dots (Photo: ncsu.edu)
"The idea is good because it allows displays to be made available to blind people as well in larger numbers at an affordable cost", says Daniele Marano, Project Manager at the Austrian Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Hilfsgemeinschaft der Blinden und Sehschwachen Österreichs) http://www.hilfsgemeinschaft.at, to pressetext. The tactile display of visual information would become possible for the first time with this technology and this would be a huge advantage as compared with conventional Braille line and screen reader programs.
The prototype will show whether the demands for simple usage and cost-efficient production can be fulfilled. "The end devices must be affordable for blind users and this has been the failure of all technical solutions to date", emphasises Marano. (pressetext.de)