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Thai university creates cheap, touchable ink for the blind

Thammasat University's Touchable Ink aims to lower the current $1-per-page cost of embossed Braille print down to around 3 cents.

jwttouchable-inkmap.jpg

A printed map using Touchable Ink.

JWT

Researchers at Thammasat University in Thailand have created something that will potentially make it a lot cheaper for the blind to read.

Called Touchable Ink, this new ink has the ability to rise when heated, turning what would normally be a flat row of printed Braille letters to an embossed version readable by fingers, according to a media release.

Developed in conjunction with Samsung, who supplied the printers, and advertising agency J Walter Thompson (JWT), the university expects that the ink will eventually be able to be used in normal printers.

Touchable Ink promises to lower the cost of printing Braille text for blind users from the current cost of $1.1 (£0.75, AU$1.50) per embossed A4-sized page to just a mere 3 cents per page using a standard printer. Furthermore, there won't be a need to pay around $2,850 for a Braille embosser.

"We are quite certain that the cost of touchable ink would be a lot cheaper than Braille printing, considering that the material ingredient that we use is a lot cheaper compared by volume to the average toner quantity in cartridges available on the market," said a JWT spokesperson to CNET.

It's not the only recent instance of technology being used to help to visually impaired. Facebook recently rolled out a new feature that describes what's in a picture for blind or visually impaired users with screen readers (a program that provides audio descriptions of the text on screen).

Similarly, Apple's iPhones and their VoiceOver function help the visually impaired with navigating around town, surf the internet and even snap some great pictures.