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Pass your upcoming math exams with the MDA

The motorised drawing arm (MDA) is capable of sketching a wide variety of designs, created with the TactileView software, right onto the TactiPad drawing board. We will be demonstrating the full setup of our system at the SightCity exhibition in Frankfurt. We will show you how a student can use it to pass the upcoming math exams, or how a teacher can use our system to prepare math assignments. Of course, a great variety of different subjects can also be sketched…

Graph in TactileView
Photo 1: Graph with two formulas in TactileView

Graph sketched on the TactiPad by the MDA
Photo 2: The same graph, sketched on the TactiPad by the MDA

Meet us at SightCity 2018
You can find us at booth D1 (near the entrance to the main hall).
The exhibition is held at the Sheraton convention centre next to Frankfurt airport. It all begins on Wednesday, April 25th and ends on Friday, April 27th.

Early bird discount – pre-order now
After you have seen our MDA in action you can place a pre-order. To begin with we will only produce a small number of MDA’s, so to ensure you are one of the first to be able to use our drawing arm, you can place your order when visiting us in Frankfurt or via the Thinkable website.

The motorised drawing arm (MDA) will cost €1995 / $2500, but early birds can place an order for only €1500. This offer lasts until August 1st.

Two MDAs pre-ordered; are you next?

The moment has finally come: after a busy development period, we are proud to announce that the Motorised Drawing Arm (MDA) is now available for pre-order!

For us, it has been a very inspiring period since we first showed you this product idea. The MDA has certainly attracted a lot of attention so far!

The outcome of the development is a unique product to create tactile diagrams in a brand new way.
In short, a design from the TactileView sofware is sketched on the TactiPad drawing board by a motorised stylus, creating a reased line drawing.

Computer rendered image of the first production model of the MDA

New interactive applications
By combining accurate digital tactile graphics with the ability to expand these by hand, the MDA opens up a wide range of new interactive applications for students, teachers and professionals. Designs can be quickly reproduced for multiple users, for example several students in a classroom.

On our restyled Thinkable website, you can find all details about the use of the MDA or the different applications we have in mind.

MDA Smart Module
The MDA can also be extended with the Smart Module. Instead of connecting the MDA with USB to your computer, this Smart Module will enable you to wirelessly sketch a design on the MDA. You can even operate the sketching process via the browser on your smart phone or tablet!

Pre-order your MDA (and get a bonus)
We are currently preparing to first production run for the MDA, with an expected delivery date of June 30th 2018. You are invited to place your pre-order to be one of the very first people to start using the MDA. Better still, all pre-orders will receive the MDA Smart Module for free!

If instead you are interested in ordering the MDA at a later stage, we would also be very grateful if you could already let us know that you are interested. You can simply use our order page to notify us.

Experience the MDA at the ZieZo, CSUN and SightCity exhibitions
We have three exhibitions scheduled at which you can explore the possibilities of the MDA:

– March 16th and 17th at the ZieZo exhibition in Utrecht, the Netherlands;
– March 21st to 23rd at the CSUN Assistive Technology conference in San Diego, California. You can find us in the Irie-AT booth, nr 605;
– April 25th to 27th at the SightCity exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany.

Our open, transparent prototype will allow you to see all the inner workings behind the MDA’s drawing mechanism up close, while a computer generated render will show you the looks of the production model.

Parabola symbolising the year's end

New parabola tool on the TactiPad

With the end of the year fast approaching, we hope you can look forward to enjoying the holiday season.

For us, the end of the year resembles the curve of a parabola. Things will gradually slow down for a well-earned rest, until midnight on the 31st of December when everyone is holding their breath to welcome 2017. In the new year, everything will be picking up speed once more with renewed enthusiasm.

Plans for 2017

We are pleased to let you know that the GraphGrid accessory set for the TactiPad has been extended with three additional tools. These allow you to draw perfect parabolas, hyperbolas and concave or convex lenses.

But more on that later – for now, we want to wish you a merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

Introducing the brand new Motorised Drawing Arm at SightCity 2016

At Thinkable, we are constantly busy developing new innovations for our blind and visually impaired users. We are excited to introduce our latest product concept: the Motorised Drawing Arm (MDA).

To get a hands-on experience of the new MDA, visit us from May 18 to 20 at SightCity Frankfurt, the world’s largest annual exhibition for the blind and visually impaired. You can find us in booth D1, right beside the entrance of the main exhibition hall. Or pay us a virtual visit on the MDA page.

This computer model shows how the MDA is built up. The MDA's body is shaped like a large capital H with dimensions of approximately 37x43 cm across and 2.5 cm high. The TactiPad can be placed either in landscape or portrait orientation on top of this body. A motor-driven arm slides from back to front over the TactiPad, with a motorised pen moving from left to right along the arm. This pen moves across the surface of the TactiPad and creates the tactile image from the TactileView tactile graphics software.

Motorised Drawing Arm

The new MDA by Thinkable is a concept for a computer-driven motorised arm that draws tactile graphics by mechanically moving a ballpoint pen across the surface of our tactile drawing board. It aims to combine the accuracy of the digital tactile graphics from the TactileView software with the versatility of drawing by hand on the TactiPad drawing board.

This way, the MDA opens up unique interactive ways of making tactile graphics easily accessible. Being a low-cost alternative for creating tactile graphics, it will allow you to create tactile images in one go or even expand a drawing in multiple steps by adding successive digital and/or manual elements.

Motorised Drawing Arm website

On the website dedicated to the development of the MDA, you can explore the applications, product concept, user requirements and technical information. Leave a reply to contribute your own ideas and suggestions!


Introducing new braille grid and measurements grid

In this newsletter, we would like to announce that Thinkable will shortly release a new version of TactileView, the most powerful tactile graphics editor available on the market. In this version, the emphasis lays on new convenient tools that will help you with accurate alignment of texts and objects in your design. With these, getting the right page layout has never been easier.

Introducing the braille grid and measurements grid

In the upcoming version of the TactileView software, the new braille grid and revised measurements grid will be introduced. These are great tools that help you to manage the layout of your design by easily aligning and placing text labels and graphic elements.

Highlighting the braille grid (above) and measurements grid (below)

The braille grid is primarily used to align text labels in a regular grid and conform to certain layout guidelines, whereas the measurements grid is mostly used to align objects and visualize their size.

Using these grids, you can easily:

  • Manage the size of inserted objects (measurements grid)
  • Control distances between elements (measurements grid)
  • Place text labels in a regular grid or on the same row/column (braille grid)
  • Align objects with text labels (subsequently using both alignment grids)

ATIA 2016 logo
Hands-on demonstration at the ATIA
Held on February 3-6 in Orlando, Florida, the ATIA conference is one of the largest international conferences on assistive technology. To get a hands-on demonstration of the TactiPad drawing board and TactileView software, including the new features in the upcoming release version, visit Irie-AT in booth 804 at the ATIA.

Keep the TactileView manual at hand – download the PDF version

In our previous newsletter, the TactileView manual page and tutorial section were introduced. This richly illustrated user guide allows you to look up any software functionality you might need. From installation and setting up to creating and printing your very own tactile graphics – it’s all in there.

TactileView manual on a smartphone and tablet

By popular demand, this software manual is now also available in a downloadable PDF version! This way, you can always keep the user guide at hand on your mobile device or save it on your computer for offline use.

Download PDF icon
Download the PDF version of the TactileView software manual

P.s. – Why not use the manual and tutorials as a guide to create the most original and personalised Christmas cards in braille?

Inspirational story

Recently, we were contacted by Emily Schlenker, a blind pre-medical student at Wichita State University. She was born without sight, but that hasn’t slowed down her fascination with organic chemistry. For us at Thinkable, it’s stories like hers that drive our passion for tactile graphics. We are excited to share it with you as end-of-year inspiration.

Molecular structure of dopamine

Blind ‘visual learner’

Emily says: “The TactiPad has been instrumental in my transformation from a fearful and anxious student who lacked the confidence to speak up in class or go to my professor in private with my questions, into a strong participant in lectures and study sessions who is often right on the money with the answers.”

Another intriguing aspect of her story is that she describes herself as being a visual learner, regardless of her visual impairment. “My brain thrives on pictures,” she says, “my mental acuity and ability to do organic chemistry in my head from memory has improved exponentially. If I can draw, I can remember.”

Aid for assignments and exams

Despite the initially steep learning curve, she has rapidly become very skilful in making tactile drawings that enable her to get the most out of her participation in the academic world. “After working with the TactiPad, I am now confident enough to present my pictures as visual aids for my questions or as parts of assignments. Hearts and happy faces are alright, but this thing is life altering. Without it, I would not be preparing to take the MCAT exam next summer.”

For us, it certainly was heart-warming to read Emily’s personal story. If you too have experience with the Thinkable products that you wish to share with other (future) users, do not hesitate to contact us!

Read Emily's full story here

We wish you a wonderful holiday season from us at Thinkable and all the best in 2018!

TactileView – Get better results with the new tutorial section

Are you producing tactile images and other materials for blind readers, or planning to do so? And would you like to discover how TactileView can help you to create outstanding tactile graphics with minimal effort?

Then our manual page and newly added tutorial section might be the ideal place for you to start. Our first tutorial covers how to find a suitable image on the internet and which software functions to use to convert it into a tactile diagram. With either the step by step guide or the included video, you will find out how easy it can be to produce your very own high quality tactile graphics.

Screenshot of the TactileView manual page

The tutorials will show you the process of creating tactile graphics, whereas the manual section explains each software function separately and more extensively. If you wish to discover more about any of the software functions that are used in the tutorial, simply follow the links in the tutorial, which will bring you to the various richly illustrated manual sections that will cover them in more detail.

Windows 10 supported

Microsoft has recently released their latest version of their operating system – Windows 10. For those that wish to upgrade we have good news: support for TactileView v2.200 also includes Windows 10.

In case you are using printer drivers for your printer or embosser that where supplied from the manufacturer, you may have to check the producer’s website to make sure they are compatible with Windows 10.

TactileView version 2.200 now available!

We proudly announce the new release of the TactileView design and production software: version 2.200!

Thinkable logo in TactileView

Once again, the software has been extended with new and improved features and the overall efficiency has increased. A lot of improvements have been made based on feedback from you. We want to thank all of you for your contributions!

A few eye-catching (or should we say fingertip-catching?) changes in version 2.200:

In the release notes on our website, you can find the full list of exciting new features. In the following newsletters, we will highlight some of the other new additions and improvements in TactileView.

So feel free to download version 2.200 and update your registered version free of charge, or run it in demo mode before you decide to buy a software licence. You can purchase a software licence in the Thinkable webshop.

P.S. Some of the articles that are linked to above will give you a sneak preview of the new extensive online user guide that we are currently creating for TactileView.

Presenting the MDA’s prototype 2

In recent months, we have made major progress again in the development of the Motorised Drawing Arm (MDA). In this newsletter, we are excited to share the latest developments. We also invite you to come and see the device in action at the TifloInnova exhibition on 17-19 November in Madrid (for further details, see below).

Motorised Drawing Arm - prototype 2

MDA prototype 2

The first important improvement in the second MDA prototype is the use of a new type of motor that applies pressure to the pen. The new setup will ensure that the pen can move over the height of the 8 TactiPad buttons irrespective of their positions. Also, the new motor better accommodates the slight variations in height across the TactiPad. This results in a consistent quality of the tactile lines across the entire drawing surface.

In the following video, you can see the remarkable speed and precision of the new prototype is if you selected an image from the catalog and pressed the sketch button:

USB connection and WIFI access

Besides connecting the MDA via USB directly to the computer, it can now also be connected wirelessly via Wifi because of the addition of a Raspberry Pi to the system. This way, it can even be operated using your mobile phone or any other mobile device! This offers brand new ways for students and teachers to work with educational graphics.

MDA catalog

Currently, the TactileView software includes a catalog with thousands of ready-to-use tactile graphics. We plan to set up a similar catalog of images specifically for sketching on the MDA.
You can already visit our demo version of the MDA catalog, which includes a first set of designs as an example. In the future, you can directly drive your MDA from this online catalog from any browser on your pc, mobile phone or tablet.

Your suggestions

We are very interested to hear which content you would like to produce when you would have an MDA on your desk. When visiting the MDA catalog page, we welcome you to think about which categories or which specific pre-made graphics you would like to find in the catalog. Or even better, send us your ideas or images that you would like to see produced on the MDA!

TifloInnova exhibition in Madrid

Jaap and Niels from Thinkable will be present at the TifloInnova exhibition, giving a hands-on demonstration of the TactiPad drawing board, TactileView software and of course the new MDA prototype.

The exhibition is held from 17-19 November in the ONCE Sports and Cultural Centre in the north of Madrid. Admission is free for all visitors. When you are there, we invite you to pay us a visit in booth 4. For further details, see the TifloInnova website.