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China Focus: The Holy Graille: China designs tool for the blind to "see" pictures


China Focus: The Holy Graille: China designs tool for the blind to "see" pictures

by Guo Ying, Sun Qi

1st February 2019

While the blind and visually impaired are able to learn and understand texts through Braille, there are very limited tools to help them understand visual information.

Chinese researchers have designed a prototype tactile display system that allows them to handle visual information efficiently, hoping they can benefit more from the Internet age of booming graphic information.

Named "Graille" and developed by Tsinghua University, the prototype includes a computer and an unusual display. The display is comprised of a pin-matrix with 7,200 small tactile dots that can be raised and retracted.

The computer controls the pin-matrix of the display to show graphic information in raised tactile dots, which can be read by touch by the blind users.

With a self-lock structure, the raised pattern can be locked for reading. The display is refreshable and allows users to feel a succession of images.

Graille has a touch guidance interface, which offers a multi-channel interactive experience by introducing both haptic and audio experience.

The research and development of the prototype was led by Xu Yingqing, a professor and director of the Future Lab in Tsinghua University.

"We have applied for patents and hope it can be commercialized soon," Xu said.

The prototype was a result of years of research and exploration. The idea started in 2009 when Xu, an expert in computer vision and interaction design, was working on a digitalization project for cultural heritage.

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