Picture this: You’re in your bed in the middle of the night, and you want to know what time it is. Bedside alarm clocks are a thing of the past and now you rely on your smartphone to tell the time. Only, if you turned the screen on, you’d find that looking at it in the dark is tantamount to staring at the sun without eye protection. [Michael] pictured the same thing and his solution for this scenario is a clever haptic-feedback clock.
The idea behind it is simple, a clock from which you can tell the time without having to use your eyes. This one gives you two options for that, the first one being a series of haptic pulses that let you tell the time simply by touching the device. The second, audibly telling the time with voice samples stored in a flash chip, was added in the second revision as [Michael] continues to refine his design. In addition to helping us assess the time in the dark, it’s also worth noting that this could be useful for those with visual impairments as well.
Until we can see the final product, you can help him out looking over the designs and sending pull requests over at the project’s GitHub page, or just watch his progress in the Hackaday.io page. We’ve seen some interesting ways to tell the time before, from a game of Tetris to a clock housed inside the shell of an old-school camera flash, but we’ve never seen one that uses haptic feedback before. We hope for the sake of our eyes that it catches on!
A lot of work with binary arithmetic was pioneered in the mid-1800s. Boolean algebra was developed by George Boole, but a less obvious binary invention was created at this time: the Braille writing system. Using a system of raised dots (essentially 1s and 0s), visually impaired people have been able to read using their sense of touch. In the modern age of fast information, however, it’s a little more difficult. A number of people have been working on refreshable Braille displays, including [Madaeon] who has created a modular refreshable Braille display.
The idea is to recreate the Braille cell with a set of tiny solenoids. The cell is a set of dots, each of which can be raised or lowered in a particular arrangement to represent a letter or other symbol. With a set of solenoids, this can be accomplished rather rapidly. [Madaeon] has already prototyped these miniscule controllable dots using the latest 3D printing and laser cutting methods and is about ready to put together his first full Braille character.
While this isn’t quite ready for a full-scale display yet, the fundamentals look like a solid foundation for building one. This is all hot on the heels of perhaps the most civilized patent disagreement in history regarding a Braille display that’s similar. Hopefully all the discussion and hacking of Braille displays will bring the cost down enough that anyone who needs one will easily be able to obtain and use one.
Continue reading “Hackaday Prize Entry: Modular, Low Cost Braille Display”