ITL Staff Receive Patent for Bi-directional Refreshable Tactile Display


ITL staffers John Roberts and Oliver Slattery, and former ITL students and guest researchers David Kardos, Brett Swope, and Edwin Mulkens received notice of patent award for their “Apparatus and Methodology for Bi-directional Refreshable Tactile Display”.  This patent describes a refreshable Braille display that allows blind and visually impaired users to read text from a computer on a reusable display surface, using the sense of touch. Unlike conventional Braille displays, which have hundreds of electrical actuators to create a pattern of raised Braille dots on a flat surface, the novel NIST approach uses just three actuators to set a pattern of dots on the rim of a wheel, which rotates to stream the Braille text under the user’s fingers. The user can pause the wheel, adjust the reading speed, and run it backward to review previously read items. The NIST design can reduce cost by as much as a factor of ten compared to conventional displays. A working prototype demonstrated usability of over 95% among Braille users. The technology was developed in collaboration with Braille experts at the National Federation of the Blind.


Contact:  John Roberts, ext.  5683

               Oliver Slattery, ext. 4281