Dharmaraja and Duran mulled their options before arriving at a clever and simple solution. They did not create virtual keys that the fingertips must find; they made keys that find the fingertips. The user simply touches eight fingertips to the glass, and the keys orient themselves to the fingers. If the user becomes disoriented, a reset is as easy as lifting all eight fingers off the glass and putting them down again.
"Elegant, no?" said Lew. "The solution is so simple, so beautiful. It was fun to see."
Beyond the price difference, touchscreens offer at least one other significant advantage over standard Braille writers: "They're customizable," Dharmaraja noted. "They can accommodate users whose fingers are small or large, those who type with fingers close together or far apart, even to allow a user to type on a tablet hanging around the neck with hands opposed as if playing a clarinet."
"No standard Braille writer can do this," said Professor Charbel Farhat, the chair of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department and executive director of the summer program. "This is a real step forward for the blind."