Feel the view
It looks like a camera, but, it enhances life for the severely visual impaired, (Blind). Imagine if you will the difficulty of navigating in a world of total darkness. Now suppose you were given a hand held, in one fist, unit that looked at the world around you, and a picture appeared, under your sensitive fingers, but, not a photo with light and dark patterns, but raised bumps proportional to brightness of the scene the camera lens was pointing toward. So you could feel the scene like it was a carving in bas relief, but moved as you redirected the “Camera.” With a little practice you could identify standing or moving people so you won’t bump onto them. You could locate doorways or walk thru openings and not bump the sides. You could locate stairways and find the first and the last without memorizing the number of steps everywhere you go. (As they teach in “Blind School” now.) Walk down a hallway or a walkway, and scan the numbers or labels on the doors without feeling all over the door to find the number and feeling the shape to identify it, just wave at the door and perhaps wave closer to the number or label still without touching and identify your location. Wave at a sign and identify the restroom location or the street name! Identify the sidewalk edge, and is that lighted sign saying walk or don’t walk? Negotiate an elevator without assistance. I could go on and on, but how does it work? No new technology is needed. The case is molded plastic. The lens is a simple camera lens, fixed focus? Behind the lens inside the “Camera “ is an array of photo sensors, either discrete on a pc board, or in an IC package. There is a holder for about 4 “AA Alkaline” batteries, Cheep and readily available. Where the four fingers naturally touch in holding the case, is set flush with the surface a tactile array of 24 to 48 pins which extend up to about half a centimeter, the distance proportional to the brightness of light striking the related photo sensor element in the photo array. Some electronic signal processing and amplification will probably be required to interface sensor with tactile pin. The tactile pin might be a simple solenoid with a spring holding the armature in and current thru the coil pushing the pin out. Or it might be a tiny electric motor to turn a cam or twist threads in a tiny screw actuator to push out the pin for the fingers to feel. It all needs to be perspiration and rain proof.
The illustration (Done in pencil on paper,) shows the array is tall and narrow and is used like a brush to paint the scene. Fingertips are a rectangular sensor and since the hand is holding the unit we don’t want to have to move the fingers around to feel the tactile information.