Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
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Based on Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) technology

Refreshable Braille Display (RBD) is a device that enables people with visually impairment to read digital text through tactile interface. Textual content in Portable Document Format (PDF), word documents etc. can be read using the display without having to emboss/print on braille paper. Affordable display gives them access to diverse textual media and opens doors for development of various products that shall strongly empower them in fields of education, employment and quality-of-life. Braille tutor systems, deaf-blind communication devices and tactile math displays are some examples of products thus derived that entail mainstream integration in these fields. Free from the demerits of both auditory devices and paper-embossed braille and at a price point below one-seventh of that of commercially available displays, RBD has been developed deeper penetration in both developed and developing countries.


  • People with blindness are unable to access digital media via touch due to lack of affordable braille displays.
  • Paper-embossed braille is bulky, expensive and short-lived; only a fraction of digital material is available on paper
  • Spatial aspect of text required for learning spelling, mathematics and equations, is not provided by speech synthesizing software.
  • Educational and occupational practices are limited due to current dependency on audio and speech-based devices

Technology Solution

  • RBD consists of an array of refreshable Braille cells, which provides a ‘line by line’ output of the digital content using a tactile interface
  • Device has a note taking capability using an inbuilt Perkins style keyboard which includes reading, writing, and file management on device
  • Device supports Bluetooth/USB/ Wi-Fi interface and can be connected with computers and smartphone
  • Standalone and portable device with a user-centric and ergonomic design.

Academia – Industry – NGO Collaboration

For scalability of the product a collaborative ecosystem is required. The project team has been built to take care of the different expertise and experience required for such a complex technology and device development project. In IIT Delhi itself the project represents a strong collaboration of mechanical engineering and embedded devices group. Further, the industrial partners, Phoenix Medical Systems brings to the table the mechanical fabrication, production and quality experience whereas KritiKal Solutions possess significant R&D experience with embedded hardware and software.

Our project team not only develops the technology but also works in close collaboration with NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) to ensure feedback from the users and professionals. User Interaction, with consistent help from Saksham Trust has been an integral part of the development process. Direct user interaction at every stage including problem identification, design feedback and prototype validation, not only motivates and drives the process, but also keep it pointed towards the right direction as well.

User Interaction

User Interaction, with consistent help from Mr. Dipendra Manocha from Saksham Trust, New Delhi and staff and students at National Assosiation for the Blind (NAB), Delhi has been an integral part of the development process. Direct user interaction at every stage including problem identification, design feedback and prototype validation, has not only motivated and driven the process, but kept it pointed towards the right direction as well.


  • Title : A Compliant Mechanism Design for Refreshable Braille Display using Shape Memory Alloy
    Conference: ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC/CIE 2015), August 2–5, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts (USA)
  • Title: Application of Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Based Actuation for Refreshable Display of Braille Conference: ASME/IEEE International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications (MESA2013), Portland, Oregon, USA, August 2013

Device Journey

Recent Developments

  • Development of new version of braille display, consuming less power and more reliable design completed
  • Lab functionality testing of device in all three mode – standalone, with Pc and with Smart phone, completed
  • Field testing of manufactured prototypes in 6 cities is currently going on