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Innovations for 2017- BLITAB® - A Tactile Tablet for The Blind

BLITAB® is most certainly an innovation to keep track of. It is currently in beta testing and will hopefully move into the commercialization phase soon. In a nutshell, BLITAB® is revolutionizing the tablet for blind and partially sighted users by offering the first-ever Braille tablet. It uses a liquid-based technology and an accessible intuitive design to create tactile relief outputting Braille, as well as graphics and maps. Blind people will be able to feel, read, and respond to Braille messages, and users will be able to be navigated to any place they want to go with the standalone GPS positioning system. Imagine the possibilities for blind users seeking greater independence in the workplace and school when having documents instantly converted into Braille.

The James Dyson Foundation indicates BLITAB® can convert any document into Braille text and allows the user to plug a USB flash drive or connect to Wi-Fi. The tablet surface will then raise little smart tactile dots from the surface. These dots have been coined “tixels” (from “tactile pixels”). BLITAB® offers users the option to read a full page of text at a time, and users can also listen to the text-to-speech voice. BLITAB® has won 11 international awards and has become a global innovation of interest.

 

Co-founder, Kristina Tsvetanova, realized the advancement of technology, the Internet, and smartphones had not benefited everyone, especially those with vision impairments. She was a student at the University of Sofia when a blind student asked her help for registering for classes because the student could not do it himself. In an interview from the Technologist, published in Jan. 2016, Kristina reported, “some people say that Braille is dying because of this voice function. But the system has several problems. How can we guarantee a blind person’s privacy if their smartphone reads messages or describes what they’re doing out loud? And how can they read a whole book with this voice function? You might be able to put up with that robotic voice for a few lines, but that’s it.” Thus, the start-up for BLITAB® was born. During the same interview, Kristina indicated this product is expected to sell in a range from $200.00 to $2,500.00 depending on the country. The range variance is reported to be dependent on the government subsidies available for the visually impaired.

 

Watch a short video of BLITAB® in action.

 

If you would like to be considered to become a beta tester for this innovative device, click this link.

 

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Tags: BLITAB, Braille, blind, impairment, sight, tablet, vision

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Comment by Doug McCoy on January 30, 2017 at 9:06pm

This is exciting news.  I hadn't given much thought to how technology has been leaving the visually impaired behind quite a bit.  I can't imagine trying to listen to a book on tape, either by choice or necessity.  I think it would  be hard for me to relax enough to not let my thought distract me from listening.

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