Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Full page (128 x 64 pixels) tactile display unit for displaying graphics and or Braille text enabling the visually impaired to use IT recourses. The unit is unique and cost effective

A new tactile device capable of displaying simple graphics and text (in Braille) to be used by the visually impaired and blind people for using most of IT and specially in accessing the Internet.

The newly developed device will be competing with an array of piezo electric actuators capable of displaying a single line of Braille text consisting of 40 or 80 characters. Currently available refreshable Braille display units are well developed but they suffer from two main limitations. These devices offer limited value for users as they display limited information and cannot display graphics or mathematical functions. The selling price of these units are quite high.

The specifications of the device was drawn by researcher who are closely involved with potential end users.

The newly developed device (the ItactI display unit) uses the electrorhological fluid technology. A tablet consists of 128 x 64 tactile pins, which are controlled individually to rise according to the corresponding information to be displayed. The pins are equally spaced (2.5mm pitch) to allow graphics and text to be displayed simultaneously. The unit is designed to display 43 characters by 13 lines of text. Total usable area is 320 x 160mm. Refresh rate is under 7 seconds. The unit also is designed to provide a touch sensitive feedback capability at an individual Braille cell level (a x 4 dots).

The ItactI display unit was tested and its performance was evaluated by team of individuals who have long experience in analysing similar equipment.

The Itact device is expected to enable end users to access the Internet. Special software package was developed by the consortium to simplify the functionality of the device.

The industrial partners are keen in continuing their efforts in developing the ItactI display unit. Manufacturing plans are considered. Main suppliers are identified. Cost of the device is estimated.

Marketing study was undertaken. Potential distributors (value added reseller) were identified in four European countries for the first stage of the launch of the product. Detailed questionnaire was completed by interested organisations. The responses in the questionnaire confirmed that there is a clear need for the new device. The study also confirmed the projected selling prices and demand in the four European countries.

An expected benefit of the new device is improved access to most of IT equipment. Accessing the Internet by the visually impaired / the blind people will improve the quality of their life. On line shopping and on line information provision will be afforded by an important section. Training and education will be improved. Opportunities to find employment will be enhanced.

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Reported by

Smart Technology Group Limited
B46 1JT Birmingham
United Kingdom
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