Purdue University researchers are working on technology that would allow blind people to get a sense of what is displayed on a computer screen. The technology relies on hearing generated sounds and holding onto a force-feedback pen, similar to those common in table-top 3D visualization setups.
As the user moves a cursor on the screen, the pen simulates being moved over different textures depending on what’s on the screen. Along with these vibrations, sounds are produced, and, after having been trained to use the system, a user can get a general idea of what is shown.
Textures can represent colors and sounds can give an idea of the size of an object relative to others. These parameters and what they represent are not static, and the researchers are working on identifying which best suit specific situations.