Braille controller

Braille controller

Braille controllers are not a new phenomenon. For the last 20 years or so they have been used as computer ‘displays' for the blind. Our challenge was to produce an ultra-compact controller. The smallest in the world. The thickness and the distance to the computer keyboard are often too big. The controller also needs to be pretty sturdy as there's always a chance users might bump it against a table.

Test panel
We took up the challenge! Aware of the target group, we didn't let the designs stay on the drawing board for long, they quickly turned into simple, tactile models. We asked a test panel of blind people to give us their opinions on the size, design and location of the buttons and the connectors.

Spark made a whole series of models, which in accordance with the project, became progressively more detailed, because blind people who can read braille have an extraordinarily sensitive sense of touch. Little edges, curves and texture differences may be barely visible, but they can be felt!

Click-feedback
Not only were the form and dimensions of the navigation and function keys touch-tested extensively. A large variety of underlying switches in combination with the buttons were tried for operating force and click-feedback.

By applying a base of pressed steel, we could make an extremely low-profile controller. But still strong and rigid enough. And by applying a soft touch coating, the braille controller feels good to the user, both on the top and the underside.

De Alva BC640: the world's smallest, but also the world's greatest ...

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