June 15th, 2016 / Author: T.Reid
If we take a look at the evolution of the printed word over the years, it's clear that technology has made real advancements possible. From desktop publishing to the promise of a paperless society. The advancements in Braille haven't been as exciting. It's still not an affordable option for many. And mobile options provide reduced output.
In this latest production for Gatewave Radio, learn all about The Holy Braille Project from the University of Michigan's Haptix Lab. They're working on an affordable full page Braille display with the potential of being a fully functioning tablet with its own tactile graphic user interface.
In this episode, I make reference to the importance of Braille for those who are Deaf-Blind; an often forgotten segment of the population. Well, the only method for accessing digital information is via electronically Braille displays. A few weeks ago I began thinking of changing my workflow in order to create written transcripts in order to make my content fully accessible. See, by creating a podcast we exclude the entire Deaf community. As someone who believes in access for all, it's time to step up my own game. So going forward I am going to try my hardest to make transcripts available. I'll keep it in the post but have it after the resource notes.
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* Haptix Labs
* Statistical Snapshot from the American Foundation for the Blind
* American Printing House for the Blind 2015 Annual Report
In the 1800's Louis Braille who was blinded as a child, modified the Night writing system developed in Napoleon's Army.
This tactile system enabled soldiers to safely communicate with one another under the cover of the night's sky.
Ever since, the system of multiple cells, each consisting of some combination of 6 raised dots translating into alphabet, numbers, contractions and punctuations, enable literacy for those who are blind.
The challenge of Braille has been, bringing it into the 21st century.
There are digital Braille displays . They're also bulky and expensive. We're talking about over 2 thousand dollars. At most 80 braille cells can be displayed at once on a device. And these are the most expensive and bulkiest.
Devices today demand a more compact form factor allowing for greater mobility.
The Holy Braille project developed out of the University of Michigan is creating a more affordable and light weight product that will display a full page of Braille cells.
My name is Alex Rossomanno. I'm the PhD student working under
Brent Gillespie and Sile O'Modhrain. I've been on this project for 4 years now. My role is on the kind of technology development and research side.
A tablet like the one we're trying to build just doesn't exist right now. there really is a pretty big need for it. It's almost prohibitively expensive to access any kind of electronic content via Braille. Essentially Blind people are more or less stuck either having to read in hard copy or having to access things via text to speech which as you probably know you know text to speech is great for some things but...
...but it doesn't allow for passively learning the spelling of a word. And certain types of information can be more difficult to understand and process audibly.
We're looking to create a device that is both able to create multiple lines of Braille on a page but then also to be able to render content that would take up more than a single line of Braille so that would include graphs, spreadsheets, maps some kind of tactile images that you can feel.
As text is visually displayed on a monitor or screen; small pins configured into cells matching the Braille cell are lowered and raised rendering the translated Braille cell.
As the user moves through the text on the screen, the corresponding text is rendered on the braille display.
Traditionally, in order to control these bubbles on a surface you need an electronic control valve or a separate one for each bump you want to control. So if you have a thousand bubbles on a surface you need a thousand external control valves. What happens it gets very bulky if you go about it that way and it gets difficult to manufacture.
Several components will impact the final price of the product.
The cost of materials are one.
Labor is another and the ease at which a product can be manufactured can greatly reduce the retail price tag.
The way we're going about it is actually integrating all that valving and circuitry that's used to control those bubbles into the same sub straight as the bubbles themselves . And so what you get is a highly manufacturable device that is made similar to how a computer chip is made. I like to draw the comparison that we have computer chips that are essentially made in a chemical process that are kind of built up like 3D printed almost so that when it comes out it's already fully integrated and you have all the different parts of the computer chip already connected together. No one's sitting there piecing it together themselves.
If you're not familiar with this concept of 3D printing...
Just imagine a machine that takes all the ingredients; processes them together to automatically build the final product.
For example, you could have machine that has all of the ingredients
to make a cake.
Eggs, water, Flour, sugar and more sugar!
The machine is programmed to use the exact amount of ingredients to create a batter and heat at the exact temperature for just the right amount of time. No longer does someone have to manually crack the eggs, measure the flour and so on.
It's the same manufacturing process to create an array of dots that's maybe a hundred dots than it is to create one that's a thousand dots. So you have a little bit of a scalability there where it may be more expensive to create just a single device out of this technology but you get these economies of scale when you create a very large device. It’s not like the price is scaling linearly or the cost of making the device is scaling linearly.
The possibilities, are more than a new and more affordable Braille Display.
Ideally we would have first and foremost something that's low cost and that could render a full page. Upfront that's our goal.
And then, there's the holy Braille!
Much like sighted people have
a typical Windows or Mac interface; there's icons you click on. Essentially you're navigating through this digital information in a pretty seamless way. That doesn't necessarily exist right now for Blind people and having a table that's able to have a very large array that can change digitally, so can update at a very fast speed, you can imagine some kind of user interface that a blind person could potentially be clicking on icons and feel those icons and be able to navigate around digital content in a similar way that sighted people do using the typical interfaces that we interact with day to day. A portable device you could carry around with you.
Alex and the rest of the team are hopeful that once this technology is proven and ready for prime time other developers will begin to create on top of their technology.
Similar to other inventions that sparked new development like the development of the iPhone gave birth to the creation of millions of apps doing everything from playing silly games to potentially detecting cancer.
While it's too early to determine when such a device will be available on the market
a prototype is not that far away.
The project is currently in the proof of concept phase.
Meaning the first goal is to prove the capabilities of the underlying technology that drives the product.
In July, Alex and the team will be displaying this technology at the Euro Haptics Conference in London.
According to a 2014 report published by the American Printing House for the Blind;
less than 10 percent of children with vision loss read Braille. This is on par with adult counterparts.
Research has shown a direct relationship between Braille and employment. Among those who are blind and employed, over 80 percent are Braille readers.
Now, with almost 35 percent of these school aged children being labeled as nonreaders and
less than 10 percent reading braille, there's a strong need for increased access and affordability.
And then, an often forgotten segment within the blind community are those who are both deaf and blind. Braille is their access to the digital information.
Improved digital access makes sense.
If you're interested in learning more about The Holy Braille project or those involved
Our lab is called the Haptix Lab (H A P T I X) and if you just Google search "Haptix Lab" we're the first thing that comes up!
This is Thomas Reid, for Gatewave Radio.
"There really is a pretty big need for it... it's almost prohibitively expensive"
Audio, for Independent Living!
June 1st, 2016 / Author: T.Reid
This latest episode of RMM Radio features a profile of a very accomplished Scientist who has been defined for something that occurred as a child. Today, we're going to explore what helped him get to running his own lab at Smith Kettlewell, creating and launching the YouDescribe service and his latest venture, creating a community for Blind Makers to develop robots and more using the Arduino
Listen now and meet Joshua Miele , the Scientist, Physicist, Inventor... the Maker! Then don't forget to SUBSCRIBE to the RMM Radio Podcast [soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/266865222" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
Resources: - Blind Arduino - Joshua Miele on Twitter - The San Francisco Lighthouse - Smith Kettlewell
May 18th, 2016 / Author: T.Reid
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Courtesy of RMM Graphic Designer, Raven Reid[/caption]
While we’re over 30 episodes deep into RMM Radio, this is the first episode as an official podcast. That's right, you can now subscribe to Reid My Mind Radio
via the Apple Podcast app or any other podcast application.
In many ways it's fitting that today's episode feature's Andre Watson, PhD. We'll learn about his road to becoming a Psychologist an Olympian, a husband and Dad. Plus we'll talk about the misperceptions of blindness and why yours truly when dealing with people, who make stupid assumptions about blindness, shouldn't lose the desire to "take them down!"
* Reid My Mind Radio or any of its affiliates, do not hereby endorse random violence --- at least not against innocent parties!* LOL!
I digress...but you should subscribe
Or Listen now!
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May 4th, 2016 / Author: T.Reid
"Rule 1: Nothing is impossible!"
As I was preparing to interview a magician who performs on the streets of New York City among other places; I learned of another magician on the west coast. It just so happens, they’re both blind.
In this RMMR version of a piece produced for Gatewave Radio, I include a bit of sample magic that requires no vision. It follows the piece so stay tuned!
*If you enjoy, please tell a friend to check out the show!*
I'm in the process of making this an official podcast so hopefully by the next episode, if not before, Reid My Mind Radio will be available via your favorite podcast application.
Check out both of these magicians, who just happen to be blind:
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April 26th, 2016 / Author: T.Reid
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Last week soon after arriving home for lunch, while seated at the island in our kitchen, my wife Marlett read a text message out loud; Prince died?
Hearing this as a question while making myself a cup of tea I responded, Prince who? As if there was anyone else!
The rest of the conversation was probably repeated thousands of times all over the world. Knowing that Twitter and the internet in general kill random celebrities pretty frequently, we looked for multiple sources to confirm. That was about the time I received a notification on my phone from the Tune In app alerting me that CNN was covering the death of the legendary musician.
Marlett and I both wondered aloud about the reason behind his death. We talked about how it really hurts losing artists from our generation. These sorts of conversations can easily turn morbid where we begin to wonder about our own deaths. In fact, this seems to be where so many people focus – the death. Since his passing, I’ve seen a lot of social media focused on warning us all to get our health checked. Posts encouraging various artists of our generation to do the same.
I get that. We should be doing the best we can to take care of ourselves In fact, [apple crunch] I’m trying to eat my fruit and vegetables, but even those I’m told aren’t always that good for me… you know the pesticides and bio engineering…
Something about that response though; to the death of an artist who by all accounts was a pretty health conscious person. I believe a vegetarian, no drugs or alcohol… It feels sometimes as though we blame the person for their own illness or death…
I know I felt that when I went through my second cancer… The first of which I was born with so I guess no one could blame me… The pseudo health experts in my life who I personally witnessed consume fried, fatty foods followed by large amounts of alcohol and engage in other activities that some may believe to be associated with an unhealthy lifestyle all of a sudden want to share tips on what I should consider in order to prevent cancer. Maybe I should have explained the cancer was caused by the radiation received to stop the tumors I had as a baby, but instead, I thanked them for their concern.
Marlett went back to work shortly after learning of Prince’s death. Working at home on days like this has some advantages; I can play my music as loud as I choose without bothering anyone. Of course, it was an all Prince Playlist.
In general, I think I have a healthy outlook on death. I know I’m not scared of it for myself… that would truly be a waste of my time. It will happen eventually, and God forbid something happens in the not so distant future… no, I did not prophesize my own death.
Death, as I explained to my youngest daughter when she came home from school, is sad for those of us who remain. Those who pass on have no control of that. I just hope for them that they had a chance to do what they enjoyed and make an impact on someone. Prince definitely did that.
Think about all of the energy that Prince put into making and performing that music. That energy is felt each time you hear a song,
watch a performance, well; There is Graffiti Bridge… I’m just saying’… too soon?
I like to think that now in spirit form Prince gets some sort of return on that energy he put out into the world. That’s a lot of energy still being generated…Just put on your favorite Prince Song;
Am I the only one who:
- Thinks they have the meanest Let’s go Crazy air guitar solo?
- Almost suffered an aneurism trying to imitate a Prince falsetto?
- Attempted one of Prince’s dance moves and bust your knee, split your pants or worse fellas?
By all means, let’s be mindful of our individual health. And while we are doing that, celebrate the life of Prince and all those artists we love so much. Personally, I’m going to keep listening, dancing, and working on my falsetto and say thank you for the music which will live on!