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NC State's refreshable Braille display could revolutionize reading for the blind

Darren Murph

While many in Raleigh are wondering whatever happened to the glory days of 1983, Dr. Neil Di Spigna and company are doing far more productive things at NC State. It's no secret that the holy grail of Braille is a tactile display that could change on a whim in order to give blind viewers a way to experience richer content (and lots more of it) when reading, but not until today have we been reasonably confident that such a goal was attainable. Gurus at the university have just concocted a "hydraulic and latching mechanism" concept, vital to the creation of the full-page, refreshable Braille display system. As you may expect, the wonder of this solution is the display's ability to erect dots at the precise points, retract them, and re-erect another set when the reader scrolls through a document or presses a "link" on a website. We're told that the researchers have already presented their findings, and if all goes well, they'll have a fully functioning prototype "within a year." Here's hoping a suitable replacement to Lee Fowler is also unearthed during the same window.

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