Pneumatic display designed to modernise braille

This full-page, pneumatic, braille-like display could change the way the blind use technology.

There are a number of tools that make navigating technology a little bit easier for the visually impaired, but not many of them are as cheap and as accessible as the pneumatic, braille e-reader proposed by a research team at the University of Michigan in the United States (US).

“We’re aiming to create a full-page braille display that can be refreshed under computer control,” says Professor Sile O’Modhrain. She is working alongside associate professor Brent Gillespie, and Ph.D. candidate Alexander Russomanno to create an e-reader, much like a Kindle, with a tactile display.

While similar technology exists, many of them only produce one line of “text” at a time, making reading difficult for the visually impaired. These technologies are also expensive and not always accessible.

The research team have designed a pneumatic alternative that uses air or liquid to push the buttons or dots up, creating a braille-like display. It is also cheaper to produce.

If the innovation comes to fruition it could revolutionise the way the visually impaired experience technology.