We have seen technology springing up in many forms to empower those that are visually impaired. In Madrid, Touching the Prado was an exhibition where creators printed 3D replicas of masterpieces that visually impaired visitors can touch and explore. Touch Graphics similarly make interactive, touch-sensitive maps, which give audio directions to blind users. Now, also combing the sense of touch with new tech, is Blitlab, an Austrian company planning to release a responsive Braille tablet.
Braille, the long-standing, universal language, plays an important role in the visually impaired’s communication with the world. Using a liquid-based technology to create bubbles that rise and fall on demand, Bitlab is a device for blind people to read and write — using a Braille Perkins Keyboard — without any mechanical elements. It also allows for direct converting from PDF, TXT, Doc and other formats into Braille code — users can simply insert files via USB sticks or memory cards to read e-books or other materials. The Bluetooth function also enables users to chat in real time with other devices. A GPS navigation system is included so users can be guided to destinations.
Blitlab is currently welcoming contributions to the development of the product — from financial donations to developer time — with the aim of bringing the first product to market by September 2016. What other technology can be adapted to enhance touch for visually impaired individuals?