A Palmtop That Prints In Braille

For the blind and visually impaired, some simple tasks--jotting down a phone number or a quick note--can be quite difficult. But TeleSensory in Mountain View, Calif., has designed a pocket-size electronic notepad that could make note-taking in braille a breeze.

Like similar palmtop computers, BrailleMate weighs about one pound and stores information in credit-card-size memory cards. But instead of a cramped keyboard, it needs just 11 full-size keys to recreate any braille character or punctuation mark. The computer also functions as a personal organizer, storing phone numbers and other information. Instead of a screen, BrailleMate uses an eight-pin cell to reproduce text, one letter at a time, in raised braille dots. Since the $1,595 computer can store more than 170 pages of braille text, though, using the built-in voice synthesizer to read the text aloud might be faster.

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