|Students at MIT have designed a portable device that converts text to
braille in real-time. Their first prototype was created in a 15-hour
hackathon in early 2016. Since that time, the device, called Tactile,
has undergone extensive development. Now, it's the size of a candy bar
and completely portable. The students have applied for a patent for the
device, although they are already working on its next iteration.
What really sets Tactile apart from other braille translators, though,
is its low cost. Most of these devices are expensive, and limited to the
translation of text that is available digitally. For example, the
HumanWare Braillant attaches to a computer or mobile device to translate
text into braille, and it costs USD 2,595. Tactile's creators hope to
sell their device for less than USD 200.
The students have plans to improve Tactile. If they're successful, this
would make the device simpler to use and eliminate the reader's need to
remember where they are on the page.
Tactile, which should be on the market within two years, will make any
book in any library accessible to those who do understand braille - and
it will also make braille itself far more accessible and easy to learn.