The amount of announcements at CSUN related to braille technology was higher than usual this year. The common concern among people seems to be the cost associated with this technology. The Transforming Braille Group and Orbit Research officially unveiled the Orbit Reader 20 at CSUN last week. According to this blog post, by Orbit Research, The device "serves as a self-contained book reader, a note taker and as a braille display by connecting to a computer or smartphone via USB or Bluetooth." We stopped by the APH booth to take a look at the new device.
The device will have the standard 8 dot braille keyboard, support for SD cards, have a cursor pad for navigation, and rocker bars for panning. One difference from other displays is the lack of cursor routing buttons. In addition, the refresh rate is slower than traditional displays, taking about a second to update the 20 cells of braille. However, Orbit research indicates on their blog that the Orbit Reader 20 will be "the world's most affordable, full-feature Refreshable Braille Display, priced at a fraction of the cost of similar devices." The blog indicates that the device is now available for pre-order, but does not list a price. The blog further advises to check Orbit Research's Products page for more details, however, the Orbit Reader 20 was not listed on this page at the time of writing. According to an earlier blog post, Orbit Research and the Transforming Braille Group were hoping to keep the cost around $300, though distribution, packaging, and other costs may drive this up somewhat. It was also reported by the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments, that the CNIB will be selling the Orbit Reader 20 for under $400 Canadian, providing further evidence of a similar pricepoint in the US. Further details of features can be found through this announcement by the American Printing House for the Blind. Or if you are the manual reading type, a simple Google search turned up the Field Testing manual. Though this manual is available, it's important to remember that it was written at the time a prototype was being tested under it's former name. Thus, it may not fully reflect changes in the final version. For example, in the manual, there was no mention of a notetaking function.
The Orbit Reader 20 will be compatible with screen readers which currently support Serial or HID protocols. Listen to this podcast with Larry Skutchan from APH to learn more about the new display and hear a demonstration.Source: Orbit Research Blog
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