"The displays use metallic films featuring various shape memory alloys which are produced layer by layer on silicon wafers using thin film technology. Display pixels are generated when the metallic film adjusts its curvature partially, similarly to bimetal snap plates for temperature switches. The movement of the films is then transferred to the touch panel via plastic pins und thus can be detected by the user. The combination of shape memory alloys is innovative. It enables switching the film to stable positions using different heat pulses without a permanent heat supply. Thus, only the switching operation requires electric current, whereas maintaining the status does not.
The benefits vis-ŕ-vis traditional Braille displays are the display’s compact structure featuring thin film technology, resulting in a cost reduction per pixel. Using conventional Braille-cell technology, costs for the graphic display of information emerging from the high number of pixels required are beyond the price range of the blind. With these innovative displays scientists make a significant contribution to the freedom in daily life of the handicapped.