Tactile drawing pad

Frugal device to make tactile embossed lines on paper on the same side as the pen.

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People with blindness or low vision don't have a frugal tool to make drawings and express or exchange real objects, measurements, geometry, or graphic art with each other and the world. Conventionally, the most frugal tool is to use a pen to push down on paper kept on a soft pad to form "negative" emboss impressions. To sense these impressions, the page has to be flipped to the opposite side. While being cumbersome, the drawing orientation is also flipped making it hard to draw right.

The challenge is - A) how can you make an positive upward emboss impression on a piece of paper by pushing down on to it? B) Do so while also moving the "pen" to create lines.

I am trying to make system where a pointed stylus pushes paper from below onto a cup receiver pen pushing from the top using hand pressure. A pantograph type of machine helps drive the bottom stylus and top pen together (vertically aligned) across all corners of the paper.

People need to draw to process information, clear thoughts, communicate ideas, summarize stuff, show relationships between different objects, and so many others. However the assumption is that only people with vision can use the pictorial aspects of our brain. One often finds little school students with visual impairments to drop geometry, science, math, creative arts from their lives as there don't exist frugal tools (like a pen) to do these "visual practices". 

Learning about this challenge, i have spent over a year or so thinking about methods to draw easily tactile images. I have come across many techniques, and the long history of innovation in this direction. After many prototypes of different methods, i have come up with a pantograph inspired tool to move together a pointed stylus from below and a cavity pen from top compressing a piece of paper in-between them, forming a continuous embossed line. Prototype #1 failed but showed that we are on good track. Prorotype #2 worked mostly, but not quite there.

Prorotype #2 has the challenges -

  • Paper needs to be fixed. 
  • Top pen groove should swivel so that it aligns along the direction of drawing.
  • Since people with blindness use the other hand fingers to get feedback and reference of where things are being drawn, the arms of the parallelogram prevent easy access and come in the way.
  • Lines are not formed well enough to be felt by fingers.

Prorotype #3 is on the way and tries to solve many of the above problem (and hopefully will not create more!).

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