Yet another use case for Tactile Layer panels

It was probably late 2009, I was still in my college and I came across a social entrepreneurship competition. I wanted to take part in it and was thinking about ideas that could be argued to have social impact. Sometime before that, I read about a startup that was building technological products to help farmers in India (Don’t remember the details. It was something using tablet PCs). So, I started thinking about tablets and the idea to build ebook readers that can be used by visually impaired people struck me. It was an idea to build technology that can pop braille text on tablet tablet surface so that it can be read by blind. I was hoping that it could be implemented the same way a 7 segment lcd display works (I know it sounds naive), but instead of darkening the segment that is active, we will have to figure out a way to pop that segment out. The whole entrepreneurship competition stopped for me at this brainstorming phase and I had put my thoughts to rest.

Last week, Tactus displayed their pop-up touchscreen keyboard. It all came back to my mind when I read about it. I’m excited about the prospects this technology brings in. Using tactile layer panel, I feel the ebook reader that I was thinking about could easily be implemented. If this technology is opened, it will be possible to build a smartphone that can actually be used by visually impaired. I know we have speech recognition technologies available in existing mobile operating systems. But we are still far away from being able to use them as primary interface. Until then, it will be reading text or feeling it.