For the past five years, I have been working with colleagues in Mechanical Engineering to design and build a full-page tactile display. You could think of this as a braille kindle. We have developed a new method of packing dots and the circuitry to make them move using microfluidic techniques. In parallel, we have been asking some fundamental questions about how people read braille, questions that have influenced how we design and build the device.
In this talk, I will present two studies. In the first, we asked whether there is a real advantage in building a whole page of dots, since the reader's fingers only ever come into contact with a small number of dots at a time. In the second study, we asked whether a tactile array with a dot density high enough to support the display of tactile graphics (with curved lines, etc) would still be able to present readable braille. In this talk I will introduce the motivation for the "Holy Braille" project and present the results of these studies.
Sile O'Modhrain is a professor in Performing Arts Technology at the school of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on human-computer interaction, especially interfaces incorporating haptic and auditory feedback. She earned her master's degree in music technology from the University of York and her PhD from Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). She has also worked as a sound engineer and producer for BBC Network Radio. In 1994, she received a Fulbright scholarship, and went to Stanford to develop a prototype haptic interface augmenting graphical user interfaces for blind computer users. Before taking up her position at the University of Michigan, Sile taught at the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queens University Belfast and, from 2001-2005 directed the Palpable Machines group at Media Lab Europe.