The iPad is the best-selling consumer tablet, but it — and every other entry into the slate market — is rendered unusable to those without the ability to see. That could change if the Omnifer Braille iPad case ever moves from concept to store shelves. The unique folding case isn't just protective, it also features a high-tech raised Braille technology that could be used with special apps, opening a whole new world to those with vision impairments.
The case covers roughly half of the iPad's screen with a special Braille section that responds to changes in light. The glow of the tablet's 9.7" display would activate a special light-reactive chemical, and raise portions of the Braille section to be readable. Custom apps would be created to utilize this unique feature. As the area of the screen behind the Braille section changes, so would the raised bumps, opening the door to apps like digital magazines designed specifically for the blind.
The Omnifer concept was created by Jayson D'Alessandro of Auburn University, and was a finalist in the 2011 Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). Though there are no current plans to mass produce such an accessory, the concept has received a good reception, and that's always an important first step.
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