Somatic Digital, which makes an electronic book technology aimed at turning printed pages into digital content, has won a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA could use the technology in educational programs for the blind and deaf.
Somatic Digital, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, will provide NASA’s Goddard Flight Center with an unspecified number of eTouchBooks embedded with its touch user interface technology. The technology lets someone put a book or magazine into an electronic folder and then retrieve linked digital content on a computer by tapping on the printed page. The tapping activates a web page on a connected display. As such, the printed page becomes a portal to the Internet.
As we wrote in an earlier story on Somatic Digital, the technology resembles the Leapfrog Enterprises LeapPad books for kids, but it’s designed for adults. A blind person could run their fingers over Braille letters and the touch input could trigger an audio playback that improves the reading experience.
The company also announced today that it can do this thanks in part to chips from Freescale Semiconductor. Rosemount, Ill.-based Freescale provides an eight-bit microcontroller and sensors to Somatic. Elissa Levine, a scientist in the Biospheric Sciences Branch at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said that the technology will be useful in learning applications, particularly for the blind and deaf.