Tagged With 2013

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Unless you're blind, know someone who is, or pay attention to lift signs, you might not be familiar with what braille actually looks like. It turns out that the braille alphabet uses a series of dot patterns that are remarkably reminiscent of the studs atop a LEGO brick, and merging the two makes learning to read and write in braille far more enjoyable for kids.

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Braille was invented by a 19th-century man named Louis Braille, who was completely blind. Braille's story starts when he was three years old. He was playing in his father's shop in Coupvray, France, and somehow managed to injure his eye.

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To make kids living with visual impairments able to share the same experiences as their friends and peers, a new series of children's books was created. The Storybook For All Eyes each feature a custom-designed font that incorporates both braille and english letters into a single typeface so they can be shared and enjoyed by all.

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The advent of cochlear implants in the 1970s and ocular implants in the early 2000s revolutionised hearing and vision loss treatment by circumventing damaged organs with digital prostheses that directly stimulated neural pathways. But these devices have been poor substitutes for the real thing. That is, until now.

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Currently, the blind have two ways of telling time: using an audible watch or an open-face watch to feel the watch's hands. This watch, the Haptica, actually sets the time in Braille and could become real with your help.

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The B&D messenger, designed by Okada Noriaki, bills itself as a way for both blind and deaf people to communicate via text message. Though there are several Braille phone products already in the market, Noriaki device is much smaller in size and pretty inexpensive. On one side of the gadget is twelve points that rise and fall in braille lettering; on the other side is a small LCD screen and a regular numerical touch pad. Users must connect the B&D messenger to a computer for it to receive and translate texts.

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When you're born blind, there are a few things you probably don't expect to do: become an airline pilot, use a camera and type on the iPhone, to name a few. Chueh Lee, a designer at Samsung in China wants to remedy that second one with his Touch Sight camera design, which instantly creates a Braille-like relief image on a dynamic Braille display to be felt, saved and even traded with other Touch Sight users. In addition, the camera records three seconds of sound after the image is taken, which helps impaired-vision users navigate through libraries of saved pictures.

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As our monitors eat away more at our retinas every day, we're increasingly interested in computers for the blind. "Siafu" is a concept by Jonathan Lucas that combines a dynamic Braille surface with tactile control. Aside from clicking on the words that your hands read, photos could also be displayed on the same surface, protruding like 3D sculptures.

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Apple's latest patent filing is for a tactile touchscreen. It's not a new idea, but while companies LG and Alpine use vibration technology to make you feel like you are touching something distinct, the Apple patent suggests that you actually will touch something physical. One idea is for Braille-like bumps to emerge from the screen. Another, cooler technique, is for keys to reveal themselves by pushing up through a flexible screen. A third base covered by the patent is for keys with concave depressions to be hidden just under the surface, so that you push down on the screen, you feel the keys but still won't see them.

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A German art student has developed a way to create tattoos for the blind, by implanting surgical steel, titanium, or medical plastic balls just under the skin in formations that spell out words in Braille.

Not just for loved ones, designer Klara Jirkova says the implants could be placed in the fleshy part of your hand between forefinger and thumb, so that blind people could identify one another while shaking hands.

I am down with the tattoo concept, though I imagine it can really only be appreciated by bona fide blind people, as Johnny Depp's famous "Winona Forever" tat would just look like a rash in need of some serious cortisone cream.

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We're not sure how unorganized blind people were able to keep track of their CDs before (other than sticking them into a computer and playing it back), but this Braille CD-R from Mitsubishi is a fantastic idea.

They have two layers of high viscosity ink that creates 0.1mm Braille bumps in order to easily identify a disc just by feel. Since they've perfected it on CDs, it should be pretty easy to port to DVDs, Blu-rays and HD DVD as well. The Braille is pre-written, so you can't label your Boner Jams '08 discs yourself, but you can correlate whatever's written on there to whatever you've burned.

Why they didn't think of this sooner is anyone's guess.