Fw: Pocket Braille for people on the move: zb051015 (fwd)

Hans Zoebelein hzo at gmx.de
Tue Oct 18 17:24:57 UTC 2005

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 16 Oct 2005 19:10:17 +0200
From: Ari <aridamoulas at telkomsa.net>
To: Linux for blind general discussion <blinux-list at redhat.com>
Subject: Fw: Pocket Braille for people on the move: zb051015

----- Original Message -----
From: "TNAUK" <tnauk at dircon.co.uk>
To: "TNAUK" <tnauk at dircon.co.uk>
Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2005 7:04 PM
Subject: Pocket Braille for people on the move: zb051015

> Pocket Braille for people on the move
> The article below may be of general interest to TNAUK subscribers
> - it is article number 35 of this week's New Scientist, ns051015.
>  #35  Pocket Braille for people on the move
> Celeste Biever
> AT LAST, the world's first portable electronic Braille display. It
> is small enough to fit in a pocket and can even be rolled up like
> a newspaper.
> The display consists of a sheet of tiny plastic paddles that bend
> in response to a voltage. It is designed to connect to a
> cellphone or laptop, and could also replace the liquid crystal
> screen of an ordinary PDA.
> Existing dynamic displays for blind people use an array of pins
> that pop up when stimulated by piezoelectric actuators. But the
> smallest versions are the size of a phone book and weigh about
> 500 grams, mainly because of the rigid fibreglass board the
> actuators are mounted on. 'It's moderately portable, but you
> certainly can't put it in your pocket,' says Curtis Chang of the
> National Federation for the Blind in Des Moines, Iowa. At $3800
> each, they are also too expensive for most people. 'I think the
> new display is a great idea,' Chang says.
> It will almost certainly be cheaper. Created by Takao Someya and
> his team at the University of Tokyo, the display is made entirely
> of a flexible polymer and thin metal films. These layers can be
> printed using low-cost deposition techniques, making a price tag
> of as little as $100 a distinct possibility, says Someya.
> The 16-centimetre-square prototype is just 1 millimetre thick and
> weighs 5 grams. A grid of organic transistors sits on a polymer
> membrane, with 144 plastic paddles on top. The entire device is
> coated with thin rubber.
> The paddles are made of a negatively charged polymer seeded with
> positively charged lithium ions and sandwiched between two metal
> electrodes (see Diagram). When a voltage is applied across the
> electrodes, the lithium ions migrate to the negative electrode on
> the lower side of the paddle. The result is a crowd of ions at
> the bottom, which expands the polymer and makes it bend upwards.
> On the tip of each paddle is a sphere under a millimetre across,
> which rises when the paddle bends, causing a bump in the rubber
> surface. When the current is switched off, the ions disperse back
> into the polymer, the paddle straightens and the bump disappears.
> The paddles take just under a second to move up or down, which is
> acceptable for reading a book or a short message, but not for
> someone working, says Chang. To make them move faster the
> transistors need to be made smaller, so the electrons have less
> distance to travel between the transistors' on and off state.
> This might be possible using nanofabrication techniques, says
> Someya.
> Someya will present the device at the International Electron
> Devices meeting in Washington DC in December.
> The devices could also go beyond Braille and recreate whole scenes
> on their surface, allowing the blind to feel images as well as
> words. 'The idea is to create an array of tiny pixels,' says
> Yoseph Bar-Cohen, an expert in Electro-active polymers at NASA's
> Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
> But he is concerned the force of the paddles in Someya's device
> may be too weak. 'If a blind person cannot feel the movement of
> the dots, the device will not be practical.'
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