Braille literacy is in a state of crisis. Well under half of the world’s visually impaired population can read using Braille, and the number is in decline even as literacy for the sighted soars. The digital revolution has only widened this gap; paper-based Braille cannot keep up with the explosion of content and information available through screens.
There are devices designed to help the visually impaired navigate digital content in real time, but users have plenty of reasons for dissatisfaction. Most interfaces are bulky, keyboard-based contraptions that can cost more than US$10,000. That’s a pretty hefty price tag for a device that can’t be used out and about. Enter Dot.
The South Korean startup, pitching today at Tech in Asia Tokyo 2015, has developed a module of Braille cells that can display four characters at a time with raised bumps. Scrolling like a marquee, Dot’s module can display messages of any length at speeds of up to 100hz in real time. The device is based on the company’s proprietary haptic technology, involving the transmission of information by touch and vibration.