The Holy Braille: A Pill For The Visually Impaired

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A gaggle of scholars at College of Michigan want to lengthen braille on tablets to greater than only one line

Digital tablets present entry to a world of knowledge—however there’s no elegant, inexpensive method for the visually impaired to learn from them. That’s as a result of present braille readers, which connect to the underside of a pill, present room for just one line of textual content at a time. Researchers on the College of Michigan, led by Brent Gillespie, Alex Russomanno, Mark Burns, and Sile O’Modhrain, hope to develop a refreshable show to translate a whole web page directly.

The venture was partially motivated by O’Modhrain, who’s visually impaired. “Present shows don’t help you entry a number of braille code and graphical info,” she says. “Math and music codes, for instance, are displayed spatially, in order that they’re unfold over a number of traces.”

Present expertise might conceivably permit for a full-page braille display that refreshes like a pill. However the worth could be astronomical. For example, single-line shows that depend on electronics price greater than $3,000; increasing them to a full web page might doubtlessly elevate the value to as excessive as $55,000. To cut back that price, the crew selected to make their gadget with microfluidics.

Right here’s how: A refreshable show should elevate and decrease braille dots—a full web page may embrace as much as 10,000—to create a sample. Within the crew’s gadget, a microfluidic chip controls this course of by shifting small doses of fluid by tiny channels. Their prototype is just a few inches huge, however the crew hopes to broaden it to a full-page show that may price $1,000 to $2,000.

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As for the gadget’s title, collaborator Noel Runyan coined a preferred moniker: Holy Braille.

Hover over the picture to study extra about how the Holy Braille venture works.

The Holy Braille’s Specs

  • Inventors: Brent Gillespie; Alex Russomanno; Mark Burns; Sile O’Modhrain
  • Affiliation: College of Michigan
  • Maturity: 1/5

This text was initially printed within the Could/June difficulty of Widespread Science. Take a look at the opposite 2016 Invention Award winners right here.