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Team post Braille ebook concept

Team post Braille ebook concept

The Braille reader concept uses an electroactive polymer capable of raising areas of the surface in place of a standard display.

Various companies – including Amazon and Sony – might be dipping their toes in the electronic book reader market, but what about blind people who like the thought of carrying a small library around in their pocket?

Although Amazon's Kindle 2 features a controversial text-to-speech synthesizer, it's fair to say that the blind are not exactly the target market for ebook readers. When you consider that books in Braille are even better candidates for conversion than their printed counterparts – each Braille book can be up to twice as thick as a normal printed copy – it's a wonder nobody has thought to tap into the demand.

Designers Seon-Keun Park, Byung-Min Woo, Sun-Hye Woo and Jin-Sun Park have come up with a concept – via Gizmodo – that they believe might just be the solution. Replacing the standard display with an electroactive polymer, the group imagine an ebook reader which is capable of raising parts of the surface when a charge is passed through the screen.

As the polymer would work in a similar way to the e-ink displays currently adorning the reader devices aimed at the sighted, battery life is conserved due to the fact that the areas would remain raised even when power isn't being applied to the device.

By passing a charge through certain areas of the screen, it would be possible for the device – designed to give a larger surface area than a traditional ebook reader – to raise dots and render Braille.

While the market for such a device would be limited by its very nature, it's a clever design – and one which would bring the advantages of electronic books to a currently under-served population.

Do you think that the Braille reader concept holds promise, or is the target market too small for the design to ever be commercialised? Is the Braille implementation better than simply equipping a standard reader with text-to-speech capabilities – or using audio books in the first place? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

9 Comments

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Mankz 21st April 2009, 14:30 Quote
Now that is cool!
EvilRusk 21st April 2009, 14:47 Quote
Wow that is such an obviously awesome product I can't believe I didn't think of it. It could have a significant impact on the range of books available to the blind. Any book that is electronic could be ready to read. Although it may have a limited market it would open millions more books to the blind (anything in e-print). Not just e-books though, what about any information? Wireless braille readers could allow blind people to access all kinds of information in public buildings (like information on what services are available to blind users etc etc).

Sometimes you just might want to read instead of listen, I can imagine "robo-voice" would get pretty tiring after a while!
Jamie 21st April 2009, 15:00 Quote
I think this is a great idea. It would be even better if you combine this tech into a normal reader so a family with a blind member could share a library and device with another family member.
ssj12 21st April 2009, 16:17 Quote
this is great, hopefully this takes off.
War-Rasta 21st April 2009, 16:19 Quote
Awesome idea! I don't know really any blind people but i can imagine this would be useful for them pretty much as regular ebook readers are for everybody else. The market will surely be a lot smaller but i believe it would still be big enough for this to be feasible.
tranc3 21st April 2009, 17:52 Quote
Fantastic idea, always love to see technology making peoples lives easier.
p3n 21st April 2009, 21:27 Quote
Why would braille need such hi-tech displays? Aren't the letters all laid out in a grid, pretty sure braille screenreaders exist already.. colour me unimpressed
DXR_13KE 21st April 2009, 21:48 Quote
i had the same had the same idea 5 years ago when i met a blind colegue that used a laptop with a screen reader, he even said that if the letters on the screen were elevated it would be enough, he even said something about feeling pictures with this method.
woodshop 22nd April 2009, 03:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by p3n
Why would braille need such hi-tech displays? Aren't the letters all laid out in a grid, pretty sure braille screenreaders exist already.. colour me unimpressed

size weight, and duality.
they are still largely mechanical devices as such they are limited in what they can display and how much can be displayed at a time.
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