Assistive devices

The TactoBook

This project introduces a novel concept on reading assistive technologies for the blind/visually impaired: the TactoBook, a system that is able to translate entire electronic text books (eBooks) to Braille code and to reproduce them in portable tactile display devices. The TactoBook consists of a computer-based system that translates fast and automatically any eBook into Braille. The Braille version of the eBook is then stored in a USB memory drive which is later inserted and reproduced in a compact, lightweight and highly-portable tactile display. The user freely explores the information displayed and is able to read books comfortably without carrying the burdensome tactile print version.

Fig. 1. The TactoBook concept: eBooks in Braille displays.

The TactoBook’s first prototype tactile display is based on Tiny Piezoelectric Ultrasonic Linear Actuators (TULA), which performance is quite similar to piezoelectric benders and relay-lever mechanisms used in traditional Braille displays. However, its compactness allows to envisage highly-portable Braille displays (Fig. 2(a)).

The first tactile display developed with this technology consists of 10 Braille cells (Fig. 2(b)); 60 contact pins and their control electronics have been integrated in a lightweight device (1.1 kg) of compact dimensions (20 x 15 x 10 cm).

Fig. 2(a). TULA motor.
Fig. 2(b). Tactile display with TULA motors.

Video! Performance of the tactile display.

Sponsor: CEPii (Centro Panamericano de Investigación e Innovación)

Contact: Enrique Preza, Hermes Hernández and Ramiro Velázquez