Braille Electronic Imaging

A new way has been developed to assist the blind or visually impaired to “see” images.

When I was young, my Dad bought me a gadget that made pin impressions (see picture below). It was a lot of fun leaving face impressions, some finger gestures as many usually did with this item, and sometimes I would even put my feet in it before my brother tried to make his own face impression. The amazing texture that it created, and the imagery it displayed was simply amazing; it was just like a model of the subject recreated.

Pin Impressions

Now an invention similar to this pin toy was created to assist the visually impaired.

Developed by the U.S National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), the original prototype has provided a way to feel electronic images. Similar to the Braille language to assist the blind, this reader has over 3000 actuator points to create a full picture. It receives transfers of images electronically and rises to recreate the subject. Once it has been viewed, it resets and brings up the next image requested.

The new progress has brought to a smaller, and more affordable product that has approximately 100 pins to rise against the user’s fingers. Just like before, it receives scanned images from a computer and lifts the actuators against the skin. You may see examples of a map and a face outline right below.

What a wonderful way to use technology in an attempt to improve people’s lives.


images from NIST