New Braille Displays at CSUN

Featured Image: 
Cartoon image of a teacher holding a sign saying, "New braille displays".

Scott Davert wrote and posted this on the braille display users & Owner list serv. Reposted on Paths to Technology with permission.

I'm not at CSUN, since I was forced to cancel due to the Coronavirus. I thought I'd pass along some braille news for those who aren't keeping up with it, or for those who may be attending the conference and want a heads-up on some braille technology to check out.

Orbit Reader 20 Plus

Orbit Research has launched several new products that they have announced today available for order, and some for pre-order. The first is an upgrade to the Orbit Reader 20, known as the Orbit Reader 20 Plus. For $100 more, at $699, this device features onboard braille translation of text files, additional options such as a clock and calculator, alarm, all in the same form factor as the original Orbit Reader 20. Before anyone asks, it does not have cursor routing buttons. It can be ordered now from the Orbit Research website.

Upgrade options will be available for those who already own the original Orbit Reader 20, though details have yet to be announced.

See  Orbit Reader Plus on Orbit Research's website for more info.

Orbit Reader 40

Orbit Research has also launched the Orbit Reader 40, which is, as the name suggests, a 40-cell version of the Orbit Reader. Unlike its counterparts, the Orbit Reader 40 does have cursor routing buttons. It also has the ability to connect simultaneously to up to 5 different Bluetooth devices such as smart phones or computers, the option of connecting to a Bluetooth keyboard, and features a USB C port. The Orbit Reader 40 also has all of the functionality of the Orbit Reader 20 Plus. No price was given, though they are saying it is available for pre-order without an official release date. More info as it becomes available...

You can also check Orbit Reader 40 on Orbit Research's website for official information.

When available, the Orbit Reader 40 will cost $1,495. Orbit Research anticipates that the Orbit Reader 40 will be released before the end of June.

Graphite

Graphite has also been "launched". It has been in prototype for a few years, but today the final version of the first model has been launched. For those not already aware, Graphite is a tactual graphics display which can give access to all sorts of information like maps, flowcharts, etc. Even more interesting is that the pins in the braille display can not only move but can be set to different heights to help get an idea of the image displayed. Graphics can be loaded through the SD card slot, a USB port for loading images through a thumb drive, by connecting to computers, graphics calculators, or even HDMI; which allows for connectivity to video monitors. It's even possible to draw on part of the display to produce your own images on the fly. You can even connect the Graphite to other Graphitis to allow for multiple "viewings" of the same graphic. The first model has 2,400 pins in an array of 60 x 40 pins and can be used in a portrait or landscape orientation. I have checked out a prototype of this device a couple of years back but have not seen the final version. The price is hoped to be under $5000.

Orbit Writer

Finally, Orbit Research is also showing off the Orbit Writer. This is a device which will cost $100 and will connect to any screen reader supported device. It is not a braille display but offers all of the braille keyboard functionality of a braille display. It also will offer vibratory feedback, presumable to offer access to notifications from your connected device. The Orbit Writer will be able to connect to up to 5 Bluetooth devices simultaneously as well as to one through USB.

More information is available from Orbit Research's website about Orbit Writer here

Humanware and APH Partnership

Last month, Humanware and APH announced a partnership and, along with that partnership which would provide new braille embossers, several new apps and devices. You can Check out more of the things they have coming by going to APH's New products Comming Soon page where there are announcements of the two new braille displays.

Chameleon 20

The Chameleon 20 is a 20-cell display which features note taking options and support for file types such as Word, Plain Text, and braille. It will also feature a clock, calculator, and will come with 3 different cases. It uses USB C, has an SD card reader, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options. This ability to connect via Wi-Fi will allow for internal updating of the device, access to Bookshare and Newsline content, etc. Speaking of Bluetooth, this device will also be able to simultaneously connect up to 5 external devices via Bluetooth and one through USB. The cost through Quota Funds is expected to be $1400, though there will be a higher price for the average consumer. They plan to have this and the next display I'll talk about at CSUN for previewing.

MantisQ40

The second braille display is the Mantis Q40. This device will have all of the internal options of the Chameleon but will have 40 cells and feature a QWERTY keyboard. You will also be able to input text using a Perkin-Style keyboard method using 6 keys on the QWERTY keyboard. Though these products were announced at ATIA in Orlando, they should be on display at CSUN. If you would like further details about the APH products, I encourage you to read the transcript of this podcast or listen to it if that's more your thing: BlindBargains ATIA20 podcast.

I'm sure other announcements will be made as the CSUN conference progresses, but these are a few of the displays I've noticed that people may not already be familiar with.

Canute 360

An honorable mention, though this is not brand new, is the Canute 360. This is a multi-line book reading device that has 360 sells of braille in 9 lines. It will be shown at the AT guys booth. You can also read more online from AT Guys on the Canute 360.

the Canute 360 is priced at $2495.