Development of a very low-cost Interactive Graphical Tactile Display capable of displaying textual and graphical information as an advanced user interface for the visually impaired The Need There are 7.4 million visually impaired people in the European Union. High unemployment amongst the visually impaired is a serious social and economic problem for the EU. There is a need for effective assistive technology to facilitate employment of the visually impaired and for industry to better be able to meet anti-discrimination legislation, as well as to avoid the increasing exclusion from the increasingly visual/graphical oriented of information and communication technologies. The Solution In the TACMON2 project we developed an innovative technology for the low-cost realization of a large area Interactive Graphical Tactile Display as a computer periphery for visually impaired people, providing them a new dimension of access also to graphical oriented electronic information and to a wider range of PC applications. The proposed Graphical Tactile Display consists of a fine matrix of tactile (haptic) pins accessible for the human touch sense, thus for visually impaired people. Furthermore, this technology provides European SMEs not only a highly marketable product but opens larger markets in software for learning, leisure and Internet communication for use with TACMON. TACMON2 technology The main innovation of the TACMON2 is the conceptual utilization of designs and technologies enabling batch production of the tactile matrix with multiple actuators. The idea is to avoid the need for individual assembly of components on a dot-by-dot basis which is the main cost factor in state-of-the-art technologies. In TACMON2, the consortium proposed to replace the expensive silicon micro-machining technologies by state-of-art LTCC (Low-Temperature Co-fired Chip) technologies to achieve a significant cost reduction and utilize additional advantages beside the functional replacement of the silicon base. Approaching the finalization of the project, the development advanced to a status where all the technology element were validated in laboratory environment, moreover the developed software applications and developer kit together with the open source TACMON2 device driver could be validated in real educational circumstances. The current prototype has the following characteristics: - matrix of 6x6 dot (36 x 36 without sawing) LTCC batch fabricated actuators - pneumatic support capable of refresh the A5 size display within 2 seconds - multi-channel matrix drive for electrostatic actuation of the individual dots - further reduced clamping energy compared to the previous prototype - current available size: half A5 - open source driver for PC and MAC - software developer kit including training, drawing application and chart converter.
LTCC, visually impaired, braille, tactile matrix, actuator
Switzerland, Czechia, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Malta, Poland