We wanted to solve a major problem the blind community faces: not every sign has braille underneath it. Sometimes it's because it isn't feasible, like when a sign is 20 feet in the air, or sometimes it's because the owners of the sign just never thought to include braille underneath. Either way, this is unfair to the blind community, and we wanted to address this. We wanted to create a portable, real time translator that can interpret a sign and read out the text in braille. After a bit of planning, we came up with tactile.
We designed tactile to be lightweight, making it easy to use on a day to day basis. At less than 3 pounds, tactile's primary unit comfortably sits on the user's wrist. We also designed tactile to be cheap and open source. For less than $90, anyone can build their own tactile. Lastly, tactile is simple. We economized and used as little code and as little hardware as possible to keep unexpected bugs to a minimum. This means tactile requires little to no maintenance. Turn it on, use it for the day, and turn it off when you get home.
tactile takes high resolution photos of the user's surroundings and sends them off to be processed immediately
Google's Tesseract OCR processes the images and interprets any significant text
The text is broken up into characters, which are then converted to braille
A matrix of solenoids pressed up against the user's finger adjusts to represent each character