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Design and Validation of the Readable Device: A Single-Cell Electromagnetic Refreshable Braille Display

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Blindness represents one of the major disabling societal causes, impacting the life of visually impaired people and their families. For what concerns the access to written information, one of the main tools used by blind people is the traditional Braille code. This is the reason why in the recent years, there has been a technological effort to develop refreshable Braille devices. These consist of multiple physical dots that dynamically change their configuration to reproduce different sequences of the letters in Braille code. Although promising, these approaches have many drawbacks, which are mainly related to costs, design complexity, portability, and power consumption. Of note, while many solutions have been proposed for multi-cell devices, the investigation of the potentialities of single-cell refreshable systems has received little attention so far. This investigation could offer effective and viable manners to overcome the aforementioned drawbacks, likely fostering a widespread adoption of such assistive technologies with end-users. In this article, we present the design and characterization of a new cost-effective single-cell Electromagnetic Refreshable Braille Display, the Readable system. We also report on tests performed with blindfolded and blind expert Braille code readers. Results demonstrate the effectiveness of our device in correctly reproducing alphanumeric content, opening promising perspectives in every-day life applications.