The Haptic Braille communication device is a portable Braille translator and scanner inside a gadget shaped like a mouse.
Quite simply, text is scanned in as you pass the device over a document, and identified through optical character recognition – the standard way of digitizing print. Then, that text is converted into Braille, which appears on the surface of the device. It’s a very plain design with incredible implications for the blind, opening up an entire universe of reading for visually impaired people.
While there are many contemporary and classic books translated into Braille – or at least digitized so that a text-to-speech reader might convey the message – the same doesn’t hold true for very old or obscure texts. Advanced scholarship in literature has always been difficult for the blind to obtain, as many secondary sources for classic texts – even many classic texts themselves – have never been digitized. Additionally, less-popular contemporary books aren’t printed in Braille or released as audio-books, and they probably won’t be digitized either.
Normally, if you’re a blind reader, you’d have to scan in an entire book with a large flatbed scanner, use OCR to convert it to text, and then have that text read through a speech-to-text translator. This definitely ties you down to a setting where you have access to your scanner, translating software, as well as the freedom to listen to audio – basically, you can’t leave the house.
With a device that is not only portable but also reliant on Braille rather than sound, you are free to explore bookshops and libraries – you can even just grab a random book from a shelf and browse it before taking it home with you!
Currently, this is not an actual product, it’s just a very innovative design. What surprises me, though, is that this hasn’t already been made; it’s not a very complicated idea, and all the needed technology is pretty common today. It looks like very few product manufacturers really think about how modern technology can be used for the benefit of people with disabilities.
Some other neat devices for the visually impaired are the Braille stapler – a tiny printer that lets you punch memos for yourself that can be carried in your pocket – and a Braille watch whose face readout is in Braille.
Via: Yanko Design