Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Braille Scanning

A few days ago, I’ve got an email from a reader saying “can u help me with the sensors to be used for sensing braille”. I’m not a specialist in assistive technologies nor recognition algorithms. But I determined to try to find an answer because touch UI, ironically, is related with assistive technologies for the visually impaired. And here I write down googling results about the topic.

Commercial Braille Recognition Software

Optical Braille Recognition (Neovision) is a Windows software that translates the Braille information into plain texts. The price is 895 EUR and it’s one and only one I can find in the Web.
Companies such TVI, SNOW, Karishma Enterprises, Index Braille and Accessibility (M) Sdn Bhd also sells OBR, but they seem to be local distributors of Neovision’s OBR

Some Research Works

[1]    A. Antonacopoulos and D. Bridson, "A Robust Braille Recognition System," in Document Analysis Systems VI, 2004, pp. 533-545. http://usir.salford.ac.uk/1815/ http://www.springerlink.com/content/b335hyg2qp4r62nm
“an inexpensive flatbed scanner is used and the system requires minimal interaction with the user.”
[2]    S. Zhang and K. Yoshino, "A Braille Recognition System by the Mobile Phone with Embedded Camera," 2007, pp. 223-223. http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/ICICIC.2007.4

Braille Sensing with Tactile Sensors

In my opinion, most tactile or touch sensors are not suitable to digitally scan Braille characters due to the lack of sensing resolution. But researchers at MIT has showed off new kind of tactile sensor called GelSight at SIGGRAPH 2009. As shown in figures below, the sensing resolution is high enough to be applied to Braille scanning. In addition, developers say that the sensor can be made big. I think GelSight might be a good solution to recognize analogue Braille documents.
[Figures from : A. Raj, M. Johnson, and E. Adelson, "An interactive retrographic sensor for touch, texture, and shape," 2009, p. 15. http://people.csail.mit.edu/kimo/publications/retrographic/sensor.pdf]

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