Hasso-Plattner-Institut
  
Hasso-Plattner-Institut
Prof. Dr. Patrick Baudisch
  
 

Linespace: a sense making platform for the blind

Saiganesh Swaminathan, Thijs Roumen, Robert Kovacs, David Stangl, Stefanie Mueller, Patrick Baudisch

Linespace is a tactile display system for blind users. The foundation of our system is a large 140x100cm display area, on which the system creates raised tactile lines with the help of a 3D printer. The foot switch allows users to enter text and issue commands by talking to the computer.

Watch our linespace video on youtube (140s)

This picture shows linespace, a large drafting table with a person in front of it feeling the lines. The modified 3D printer is driving over the board and printing additional lines

Linespace' print head is borrowed from a 3D printer. During operation, it squeezes liquid PLA plastic onto the display, resulting in raised lines that users can feel using their fingertips. The same print head also offers a scraper that can remove lines under computer control.

a close-up picture of the head of the device. You see from left to right a scraper to remove contents, an extruder which prints lines and a ball caster that prevents the extruder from hitting the board. On top of that is a large ventilator to cool the hea

We use Linespace to give blind users access to the type of software packages that normally only sighted people can access, namely the type of software that helps them to make sense of complex data. So far, we have created a simple homefinder program, a spreadsheet program that can read and write Microsoft Excel, two simple games, and a simple programming environment.

this is a link to the demo video of linespace, click to connect to youtube

One might say that lineSpace is an interactive "visualization" system for the blind. The key to achieving this is Linespace' large display as it allows displaying a lot of contents at once, where smaller display systems need to update screen contents. The use of lines (instead of the more common Braille dots) helps create visualizations.

The vision behind linespace is to help blind users interact with and make sense of complex spatial data. It thereby intends to pick up the vision behind of Vannevar Bush's memex, Engelbart Online system, and Xerox PARC's personal computer, by investigating how we can recreate this type of interaction for blind users--how to use computers to help people think better.

Publications

CHI talk on youtube

video on youtube

Article in New Scientist on Linespace

icon referring to the publication

Saiganesh Swaminathan, Thijs Roumen, Robert Kovacs, David Stangl, Stefanie Mueller, Patrick Baudisch
Linespace: a sense making platform for the blind
In Proc. CHI'2016. Full Paper.