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Japan Broadcasting Corp (NHK) announced that it developed a haptic display with a touch panel function. A haptic display provides information to users by forming characters and images on the screen with protrusions and recesses made by minute pins.

The latest haptic display has an optical touch panel function that can accurately detect the positions touched by a finger. Thus, when the user touches the graphics and icons represented with the protrusions and recesses, the display can output the information audibly, using Braille or even guide the user to select the next operation.

In past research on interactive haptic displays, typical prototypes developed thus far have failed to sufficiently detect the positions touched by a finger. NHK reportedly overcame the problem. In addition, the new display enables users to select the button while reading Braille, or display multiple lines in Braille.

The latest haptic display was developed as part of the research conducted by NHK in collaboration with Tokyo University, which was commissioned by Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) under the theme of "Multimedia Browsing Technology for the Visually Impaired."

NHK is planning to unveil the display at NHK Science & Technical Research Laboratories Open House 2008, which runs from May 22 to 25, 2008.