Sure, there are braille tablets these days that are pretty amazing. They translate several words or lines of text from websites into raised braille dots on a physical surface that scrolls through the web, opening up the world to those who can’t view the content of computers and the internet through traditional screens. But there are challenges. According to Alex Russomanno of new Ann Arbor startup NewHaptics, current braille tablets are limited to small quantities of text at a time, they’re incredibly expensive to manufacture, and they don’t have any way to translate images or graphs. This leaves the blind locked out of visual content, maps and graphs on computers.
Rebecca Cunningham, the University of Michigan Interim VP for Research with Tech Transfer and Kelly Sexton, Associate VP for Research at Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships at U of M TechTransfer, held a panel this week at Celebrate Invention on a milestone year for the University of Michigan developing inventions, research, and startups from work done by faculty and researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. TechTransfer is the licensing office that helps researchers and faculty at the University of Michigan who develop inventions and new business ideas spin off intellectual property with proper licensing from the University of Michigan. This year, according to Cunningham, the University of Michigan has developed 502 new inventions, 198 patents, 232 licenses and options with industry, and founded a record 22 new startups.