The Optacon is a device used by blind people to read printed text. It was essentially composed of a small finger scanner and a pad that projects braille using a tactile array of vibrating rods. The blind individual scans the text with his/her left hand while reading it with his/her right hand using the pad. The user can even use a zoom control for different sizes of font.

My source for this information is "Understanding Blindness" by Mark Hollins which was published in 1989. Wondering whether this technology was still in use, I searched the internet for 'optacon' and came across a page declaring the Optacon's discontinuation containing the following message :

After more than twenty-five years and production of nearly 20,000 units, technology has overtaken the Optacon. Optical character reading devices, combined with low cost speech synthesizers, have proven to be the preferred access device for most blind users. Current Optacon sales total less than 100 units per year, most of which are outside the United States.{Telesensory Systems; 1996}

Farewell optacon. I knew thee not.

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