New device invented by six female undergrads translates text to Braille in real time

Tactile, the first invention of its kind to translate text to braille in real time, was created in 15 hours by six young women at MIT

A team of six women from MIT has created a portable machine capable of literally lifting text off the page.

Their Tactile project is the first invention of its kind to translate printed words into braille in real time, six characters at a time.

The “braille cell” is made using a small camera with letter recognition capabilities that translate the text by pushing up six to eight dots to form the braille characters.

The team first created the device while participating in the MakeMIT hackathon — a university competition in which teams are given 15 hours to design, code, test, and debug projects.

Their first try was a very rough prototype that had to be connected to a computer and could only display one character at a time.

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Nevertheless, they won.

Now — after narrowing it down to the size of a candy bar, adding five more characters, and eliminating the need for a direct computer connection — the women feel confident that their invention could have significant real-life benefits for the 1.3 million legally blind Americans.

Read more: ATI