The Michigan Engineer News Center

Refreshable Braille device

A group of Michigan researchers has developed the technology that could make a full page, refreshable braille device possible. | Short Read

About this video

Reading a computer screen in Braille is a cumbersome process today. The visually impaired people who rely on the system of raised dots only have access to one line at a time. Beyond that, current systems don’t translate charts or graphs. A team of researchers from Michigan Engineering and the School of Music, Theater and Dance are working on a solution. Their technology, which has been described as a leader in the field, relies on pneumatic use of liquid or air to shrink the mechanism and expand it so it can display more at once. Their goal is for it to display the equivalent of a page of Kindle text at once.

About the Researchers

Professor Sile O’Modhrain earned a BA in music from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and a licentiate in piano teaching from Trinity College London. She holds an MS in music technology from the University of York, York, England, and a Ph.D. in computer-based music theory from Stanford University.Professor O’Modhrain has worked as a researcher and faculty member, both here and abroad, at the prestigious MIT Media Lab, Media Lab Europe, and at the Sonic Arts Research Center at Queen’s University of Belfast. She has also worked for BBC Radio as an audio engineer and program producer. Her research focus is on haptics–touch and gesture–and its relationship to music performance and on the development of new interfaces for technology-enhanced instruments that extend the boundaries of musical expression. Also impressive is her combination of experience in many areas related to audio, psychoacoustics, computer music, cognition, and gestural control of music.

Brent Gillespie is an associate professor of mechanical engineering with research interests in haptic interfaces and robotics. Prof. Gillespie obtained his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Davis and his MS and PhD from Stanford University. At Stanford he was associated both with the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) and the Dextrous Manipulation Laboratory. After his PhD, he spent three years as a postdoc at Northwestern University working in the Laboratory for Intelligent Machines (LIMS).

Alexander Russomanno received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2012. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research interests involve microfluidics, surface haptic interface design and human-machine interfaces.

Portrait of Angela Wegrecki


Angela Wegrecki
Marketing Communications Manager

Mechanical Engineering

(734) 647-8087

2252A GG Brown

  • Sile O'Modhrain

    Associate Professor, Information

  • Brent Gillespie

    Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

  • Alexander Russomanno

    PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering

The outside of the Ford Robotics building

U-Michigan, Ford open world-class robotics complex

The facility will accelerate the future of advanced and more equitable robotics and mobility | Medium Read