SBIR Phase I: Full-Page Electronic Braille Display

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Polymer Braille Inc.
4700 Westgrove street, 316, Raleigh, NC, 27606-1476
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Neil DiSpigna
(919) 244-9507
Business Contact:
Neil DiSpigna
(919) 244-9507
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is for the development of a full-page, portable, low cost, refreshable Braille display based on the state-of-the-art electroactive PVdF polymer technology. The full-page Braille display is a very useful device which will promote Braille literacy and increase education, job opportunities, and quality of life for the visually impaired. The current commercial displays are based on a 30 year old PZT Braille cell technology. Both the materials and their processing are expensive, making the price of such a display very high. In addition, intrinsic material properties limit these displays to only one or two lines of Braille characters. In this proposal, a novel strap actuator using PVdF polymers will be used to make Braille cells that will provide large displacement, supporting force, and fast response time. In addition, these miniature Braille cells will be scalable to full-page displays. Highly integrated microelectronic processing will be employed to enable low cost Braille displays. The focus of this effort will be to take the current prototype dot and scale it down to the required dimensions and evaluate it in terms of firmness, displacement and refresh rate. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes a specially designed full page Braille display that can demonstrate both Braille characters and graphic information, which can help blind people read icons, drop-down menus, shapes, and curves with Braille labeling on a computer screen. This will greatly enhance the ability of blind people to operate computers and handle complicated tasks. Since the electroactive polymer Braille cell will be developed at a low cost; more blind people will have an opportunity to own a Braille display device. This includes blind children in their early stages of education. This will not only help them to understand the importance of learning Braille, but also provide them with a very effective way to study various Braille codes such as literary code, Math Nemeth code, computer code, etc, in the digital age. This will increase Braille literacy, which has become a growing issue among blind individuals over the past several decades. Braille literacy has been directly linked to factors such as completion of a high school education, employment, and economic situation. Also, the market for Braille displays and assistive technologies will increase, contributing to job and economic growth.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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