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The power of touch

tech reviews Updated: Apr 07, 2009 18:24 IST

Finnish scientists have created a vibrating touch screen phone for the visually impaired, that can simulate Braille characters. The researchers used a Nokia 770 mobile Internet tablet which has piezoelectric material built into the touch screen that vibrates when an electric signal is applied to it. Each Braille character or cell is made up of six dot positions, arranged in a rectangle containing two columns of three dots each. A dot may be raised at any of the six positions to form sixty-four permutations, including the arrangement in which no dots are raised.

Instead of recreating the raised spots that represent a Braille character, this new system vibrates the screen using the transducers. When a finger touches the screen, its position is logged relative to the text character beneath. The Braille is then sent out as a chain of strong - Braille dot - and weak - Braille space - vibrations off the screen.

Currently this is being used for single characters only, but the researchers hope to make it work for entire words and sentences soon.