SBIR Phase I: A Novel, Hands-free Braille Display

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Award Id:
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
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Small Business Information
P. O. Box 927, 1754 Quarry Lane, Valley Forge, PA, 19482-0927
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
(610) 783-6692
Business Contact:
(610) 783-6692
Research Institute:

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will assess feasibility of adapting established BrainPort Vision Device technology to the task of reading braille thereby creating an entirely new kind of hands-free Braille display. BrainPort currently converts images acquired from a camera to low resolution, tactile impressions on the tongue. To date, it has been successfully used to inform blind users of details of their environment. Proposed research eliminates camera input but instead sends fabricated images of braille dot patterns directly to the tongue using newly developed companion system software. No other developers have ever applied BrainPort technology to Braille reading. Having to read Braille only with the fingers excludes certain individuals from reading braille such as blind people who have physical disabilities/diabetic neuropathy, deafblind people who cannot make signs as they read, and blind musicians who cannot perform music while reading it. Also, users of conventional Braille displays who read with their fingers must repeatedly move their hands back and forth from the PC keyboard to the display, slowing productivity. The BrainPort Braille solution develops companion system software that permits users to read braille by directly transmitting dot patterns of characters to subject?s tongue using patented BrainPort hardware. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes: widening educational opportunities for blind and deafblind students; improving job performance for working professionals benefiting society through increased employment/job retention; Expanding product line of established, life-style business practicing social entrepreneurship since 1992. The research targets low-incidence population of blind, deafblind and physically disabled people. Technology unprecedented: no direct competition. Indirect competition: conventional braille displays, screen reading software. Early adopters will be working professionals, clients of rehabilitation agencies seeking employment, and educators of motivated blind, deafblind students previously unable to read due to physical disability. Individuals commonly use both conventional braille displays and synthetic speech from screen readers to read and use one or the other method depending on material to be read. A BrainPort Braille display will not be mutually exclusive but will increase options for such users. Dancing Dots will sell Hands-free Braille Display to world-wide market of tens of thousands of current and potential braille readers prevented from reading with their hands through established customer database, website, search engine optimization and international trade shows.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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