Innovation That Matters

Now more than ever, it is important for braille readers to avoid using their hands, which could potentially spread the coronavirus | Photo source Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Ultrasound pulses produce Braille text in midair to improve readability

Computing & Tech

A haptic feedback device can form precise braille patterns in midair with the ultrasound pulses

Spotted: Braille signs and displays in public can often pose challenges for those who rely on it. It can be difficult to direct the user to them, limited information can be presented, the texts can clog up over time, and now more than ever there are hygiene concerns with people touching the surfaces. To address such issues, a team of researchers from Germany’s Bayreuth University has developed a device called HaptiRead, which can produce Braille using ultrasound waves. This haptic feedback device can form precise braille patterns in midair with the ultrasound pulses.

The HaptiRead system contains a total of 256 ultrasound transducers that emit frequencies of up to 200 Hz, which is strong enough for users to feel on their skin and can project up to 70 cm away. A built-in Leap Motion depth-sensing camera is used to detect when a user moves their hand in front of the device, which then activates the ultrasound transducers to form the correct patterns and sequences.

Several different methods of how to present the text have been experimented with. In one, all the dots were presented at the same time; in another, they were presented row-by-row; and lastly, point-by-point, where only one dot was displayed at a time. The results from testing HaptiRead on 18 sighted and 11 blind participants showed that the point-by-point method worked best, with the participants also reporting that it was the least mentally demanding.

According to the team, there is still much more testing and development ahead of them, but the preliminary study shows that HaptiRead is promising.

Written By: Serafina Basciano

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