p It’s truly amazing, the wealth of information we all have at our fingertips — that is, of course, unless your fingertips are how you have to access that information.

An innovative new tablet that uses magnetically configurable bumps may prove to be a powerful tool for translating information like maps and other imagery to a modality more easily accessed by the visually impaired.

The tablet, unnamed as yet, has evolved and improved over the past few years as part of Europe’s BlindPAD project, which aims to create a cheap, portable alternative to touchscreen devices.

It’s developed by researchers at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne.

Each little bump is attached to a magnet; the magnet is always attached to one of two steel layers, and can be switched by running a current briefly through an adjacent coil.

Like an e-paper screen, no power is required to keep it in its current position, making it very efficient.

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