Six engineering undergraduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have designed a portable device that converts text to braille in real time. Their first prototype was created in a 15-hour hackathon in early 2016. Since that time, the device, called Tactile, has undergone extensive development. Now, it’s the size of a candy bar and completely portable. The students have applied for a patent for the device, although they are already working on its next iteration.
What really sets Tactile apart from other braille translators, though, is its low cost. Most of these devices are expensive and limited to the translation of text that is available digitally. For example, the HumanWare Braillant attaches to a computer or mobile device to translate text into braille, and it costs $2,595. Tactile’s creators hope to sell their device for less than $200.