Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, 2006 - $1,500
This E-Team is developing an electrotactile Braille display to allow the blind to read text from a computer screen. The device, essentially a small box with lines of electrodes representing Braille dots, uses electrical pulses to stimulate the nerves in the user's fingertips, simulating the feel of raised Braille. The device downloads text from a computer through a USB connection.
There are other text-reading Braille displays on the market, but none that use electrical stimulation. Current devices move a series of pins up and down to change the Braille text being displayed, but the high number of small moving parts brings the price of these displays up to $10,000, limiting their market. The team estimates their device will cost a few hundred dollars.