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Smartphones and tablets have taken over in a big way, which is not news to anyone. Combining countless devices into one, the technology in these devices has become ubiquitous and, in many cases, unavoidable. But while many consider them to be a necessary tool in order to function, there is a particular community that has run into major roadblocks in fully utilizing these devices: the visually impaired. But hopefully that will be changing – with tactile tablets.
An Austrian startup named Blitab Technology claims to have developed a way to allow tablet screens to use liquid bubbles to instantly generate Braille text or relief images. This would bring the convenience of e-mailing, e-reading, and more to a group that has previously been unable to take full advantage of their mobile devices.
Blitab’s device isn’t the first of its kind, but hopefully it will succeed in being the first that actually makes it to market. Other, previous attempts to create shifting tactile interfaces resulted in nothing when the manufacturing process or distribution costs became too much to bear for the respective innovators.
Anecdotally, I’ve found that tactile response is something even the average user has wanted for their mobile devices. Keyboards that feel like keyboards, games with more depth than tapping a flat screen, and other useful features could grow from this technology. But for now, Blitab’s goal of opening up the mobile device world to the blind and visually impaired is a fantastic start.