While a series of high tech gadgets are catering to the needs of the visually impaired, an extra step in evolving such products is always welcome. Sadly, fewer than 1% of the 2 million visually impaired people in the UK use the tactile Braille writing system. A new type of technology may change that.

refreshable braille tablet

Researchers at the University of Michigan are working on a Braille tablet, that may make access to sciences and math easier for blind users. Affordability is also a key factor here. The classic braille screen uses plastic pins push up and down by a motor, while the new device relies on liquid or air to fill bubbles that will “pop up” to create the required patterns of dots.

Right now visually impaired users only have access to a single line of text on the digital devices, which limits their understanding of graphs or spreadsheets for example. Since the manufacturing technique is based on layering and not an assembly of parts, the product could retail for less than 700 GBP. We look forward to seeing this product evolve.