Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology recently developed an app called BrailleTouch, which transposes a six-figure braille keyboard on a smartphone.
Essentially, an individual holds the phone with the screen facing away, using the same finger patterns as on the Perkins Brailler (index, middle and ring) to perform braille chords on the touchscreen – with different finger combinations producing various characters. However, there is often a lack of feedback because touchscreen devices are typically equipped with flat and featureless surfaces.
As such, it may not be clear which fingers have been recognized by the device – simply because the user only receives feedback once a chord has already been entered. That is precisely why an international team of researchers are developing a system known as HoliBraille that combines chord input with a series of vibrations, effectively informing the user what the system is registering.
According to Kyle Montague and Hugo Nicolau of the University of Dundee, the HoliBraille case can be attached to a Samsung Android phone.
“It feeds information to the user in the form of vibrations felt through the fingers before the chord is committed and an error has been made,” the duo explained.
“We use an Arduino to talk to the phone case via Bluetooth. The case then passes on the information by activating individual vibro-tactile motors next to the fingers that make up the chords.”
It should be noted that preliminary results indicate the system is 100% accurate for single finger vibrations and 82% accurate on chord input. In addition, HoliBraille could ultimately be used to pass on messages between a range of devices, such as ATMs or desktop computers.
Interested in learning more? You can check the full text of “Good vibrations bring braille into the 21st century” on The Conversation here.