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Researchers develop braille for vibrating touchscreen devices

Joseph L. Flatley
March 31, 2009
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In braille, a character is made up of six dots laid out on a two by three matrix -- not something that can really be conveyed using capacitive touchscreen technology. Working with a Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, researchers in Finland have developed a method for piezoelectric touchscreen devices that uses a single pulse of intense vibration to convey a raised dot, and a longer vibration made up of several weaker pulses to represent a missing dot -- spelling out letters that can be easily read by touch. It took a while for volunteers to get used to this method, but once they had they were able to read a character in as little as 1.25 seconds. Now that they have letters down, the team is moving on to words and sentences -- with an eye towards developing text-to-braille software sometime in the future.

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