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The Braille Snail

By Lito Carasig - Monday, May 09, 2011

I always envisioned technology as a boon to mankind, especially for those who are differently challenged. Reaffirming my faith in mankind, a new device that enables the visually impaired to “read” Braille like never before, we have the Snail.

Braille SnailThe Snail uses pressure sensitive touch pads to read Braille patterns, instantaneously converting them to speech or recording them for later use. Its ergonomic design makes it very compact and light for easy storage in a bag or purse, though it is still large enough for those with poor eyesight to find amongst their stuff with little difficulty. 

The Snails design makes its very intuitive to use.  The user simply places the device on his or her thumb, removes the bumper cover and glides its pressure sensitive reader surface along a line of Braille to read what is written. 

The uneven Braille pattern is then read through the Snails sensitive touch surface and simultaneously converted into an audio output. It can also be synced with a Bluetooth headset for instant playback in real-time, so that the users can use it public places like libraries or buses without disturbing anyone.

Braille SnailThe Snail was conceptualized by its designer, Wonkook Lee, with the visually impaired in mind.  He reasoned that it takes too much time and focus for the visually impaired to read Braille points and if they forget the preceding content of what they are reading, they have to read the whole line again from the start which he knew must be very frustrating.

The benefits of using the Snail Braille Reader are obvious :  its fast compared to the conventional touch-read system; minimum or no learning curve since all the user has to do is roll the unit on the Braille pattern, and it’s very light and compact.

Of course, though the device was predominantly designed to help the visually impaired, no one is stopping us not-so-visually challenged from taking advantage. I have often wondered myself what stories those little bumps on paper have to tell, and now I’ve finally got a way to find out.

Seriously though, the Snail can greatly enhance the reading power of the blind thus both empowering and encouraging them to read more.  I say, kudos to the designer for a well-thought out piece of technology that makes the world of the visually impaired just a little bit brighter.




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