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Graphical tactile displays for visually-impaired people.

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Department of Electronics, Universidad de Málaga, 29071 Málaga, Spain.


This paper presents an up-to-date survey of graphical tactile displays. These devices provide information through the sense of touch. At best, they should display both text and graphics (text may be considered a type of graphic). Graphs made with shapeable sheets result in bulky items awkward to store and transport; their production is expensive and time-consuming and they deteriorate quickly. Research is ongoing for a refreshable tactile display that acts as an output device for a computer or other information source and can present the information in text and graphics. The work in this field has branched into diverse areas, from physiological studies to technological aspects and challenges. Moreover, interest in these devices is now being shown by other fields such as virtual reality, minimally invasive surgery and teleoperation. It is attracting more and more people, research and money. Many proposals have been put forward, several of them succeeding in the task of presenting tactile information. However, most are research prototypes and very expensive to produce commercially. Thus the goal of an efficient low-cost tactile display for visually-impaired people has not yet been reached.

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