Carlos Bergfeld; Texas Tech Daily Net; Texas, USA
The world's first portable electronic Braille display is small enough to fit in a pocket and can even be rolled up like a newspaper. The display consists of a sheet of tiny plastic paddles that bend in response to a voltage. It is designed to connect to a cell phone or laptop, and could also replace the liquid crystal screen of an ordinary personal digital assistant (P.D.A.).
Existing dynamic displays for blind people use an array of pins that pop up when stimulated by piezoelectric actuators. But the smallest versions are the size of a phone book and weigh about 500 grams, mainly because of the rigid fibreglass board the actuators are mounted on. "It's moderately portable, but you certainly can't put it in your pocket," says Mr. Curtis Chang of the National Federation for the Blind in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.A. At 3,800 dollars (or nearly one-and-a-half lakh rupees) each, they are also too expensive for most people.
On display were the two Braille-displaying P.D.A.s, ‘BrailleNote’ and ‘BrailleNote PK’. The BrailleNote helps in taking notes, and users can play music, read books, type papers, surf the internet or sync up to a personal computer to download emails or other files.
Another device, the ‘Brailliant Braille Display’, allows blind users to use standard desktop or laptop computers. All of the Braille devices have refreshable Braille displays, which raise small dots through holes in a flat surface to create Braille that refreshes as the user inputs commands.