2003 Conference Proceedings

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The Development of a Tactile Sensor System for Reading Braille

Tatsuo Nishizawa
Chief Engineer
Shinano Kenshi
6-15-26 Chuo, Ueda
Japan 386-0012

Mami Tanaka
Associate Professor
Tohoku University
Aobayama04, Sendai
Japan, 980-8579

This paper reports the development of a tactile sensor system for reading Braille. Braille is a form of tactile characters created for blind people. However, the acquisition of the skill to read Braille requires great effort. In this paper, we show that the use of a tactile sensor which uses a PVDF film assembled with fingers, could allow recognition of Braille without special training, by just scanning over Braille.

Braille was invented for print handicapped people, in order that they could read characters by the sense of touch on the fingertip. It requires great effort and much training to acquire the skill to read Braille, especially for those who become print handicapped midway in their life. This system is being developed for those clients who wish to read Braille without special training.

This tactile sensor system consists of five parts. The first one is an analogue front-end; it reads the amplitude of the waveform of the PVDF film sensor while suppressing noise elements. The second part is analogue to digital conversion. The third part is digital signal processing, this part separates the input waveform by corresponding each Braille character, then analyzes the features of each characters. The fourth part is determination, comparing each character with a database. The last one is language recognition, the determination results are just tactile layout information of each Braille character, these language recognition parts translate to the ASCII character code.

The sensor for Braille reading is worn on the finger. The sensor is made with a single PVDF film and rubber sponge. To scan the Braille, the user traces the sensor over the Braille just as people who read Braille do with their own fingers. In addition, the user can feel the location of the Braille marks through the sensor.

We believe this system will help the visually handicapped read Braille. This device can also help the communication between the visually handicapped and sighted people, even when communicating only in Braille.

About Shinano Kenshi / Plextor

In 1998, Shinano Kenshi / Plextor became the first company to ship a CD based DAISY player for the visually handicapped. Since 1993, Shinano Kenshi/Plexor has been deeply involved in the project to develop a special CD player for the visually handicapped, with worldwide field trials held in 1996. In 2002 the first DAISY CD recorder was launched.

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