Hasso-Plattner-Institut
Prof. Dr. Patrick Baudisch
  
 

LinePod: A Mobile Sensemaking Platform for Blind Users

Oliver Schneider, Kevin Reuss, Nico Boeckhoff, Julius Rudolph, Adrian Kuchinke, David Stangl, Robert Kovacs, Patrick Baudisch

Abstract

Current displays for the blind struggle to display spatial information. To interactively make sense of complex spatial data, users must often resort to text-focused technology, like Braille displays or screen readers. We previously presented Linespace, a sensemaking platform for the blind - a large interactive tactile display using lines as its primitive, where users can interactively feel glyphs, lines, and textures and hear audio feedback.

We now build on Linespace’s initial proof-of-concept with Linepod, a portable, interactive, 2-D spatial tactile display. Linepod interactively prints high-quality tactile lines to swell paper, senses touch input, and provides interactive audio feedback. Linepod is self-contained, able to run on battery power.

We demonstrate Linepod through several demonstrative sensemaking applications, including a tactile web browser, displaying tactile outlines of websites to facilitate screen-reading; a camera application, including filter-based editing; and minesweeper, to show the potential for game-based problem solving.

Swell paper

  

Linepod uses swell paper, a type of paper that swells up on contact with heat.

By heating up this special kind of paper with a laser, we can create tactile lines that a blind user can feel.

Implementation

Linepod supports an application ecosystem, complete with an API for soware developers.The system is self-contained, connecting wirelessly to apps on a smartphone via bluetooth. The smartphone is used for its speech input and output capabilities aswell as an easy method of aquiring apps without having to access the rasperry pi directly.