The Dot Pad co
nsists of 2,400 pins in a pixel-like grid that can quickly be set to be in up or down positions, forming letters in braille or easily identifiable shapes. That’s room for 300 braille glyphs, plus 20 more in a more traditionally spaced line below. Crucially, the device also integrates directly into Apple’s VoiceOver screen-reading feature, making reading text, icon labels, and even graphs or simple images just a tap away. The core innovation of the Dot Pad is, as you might expect, the “dot” itself. How to make dozens or hundreds of these little pins (6 per braille letter) extend and retract reliably and quickly (and not too loudly) has produced a variety of solutions, but Dot’s is entirely new.
Dot has taken a huge step forward with a smart braille device that not only allows for easy display of text, but tactile representations of imagery, potentially opening an entirely new layer for education and accessible content. More importantly, though, this is a great resource for kids. A child growing up with a visual impairment misses out on a lot and is able to easily illustrate things like letters, shapes, and simple images others take for granted like houses, cats, and so on… it’s a potentially game-changing addition to K-12 education in the blind community.