It may just be a conceptual mockup, but man if Yanko Design's Braille E-book proposal doesn't send a chill up your leg:
E-books are still very much in their collective infancy. Amazon's Kindle, effectively the iPhone of the e-book category, is only on its second generation. Competition is still weak -- Sony's got a reader, and a few other companies have proposed concepts. We're still in black and white e-ink, of course. And the price is nowhere near that of a book.
And yet, here's a proposal for a braille e-book. According to Yanko, "Not many books are available in braille due to cost and inefficiency. Translating a 500 page book into braille nearly doubles the thickness. EAP is a technology that can dynamically change the surface pattern by way of an electromagnetic signal - simulating braille text. Not exactly a new idea but a nice executive nonetheless."
There's more to this than just opening up the market and advancing technology. This is applied innovation that could actually help an underserved market. Whereas the e-book reader is largely what netbooks are to consumers -- secondary devices, complementing the original -- a braille e-book reader fills a market that's currently very limited. And that's a great thing for all sides of the proposal.
The question, then: is it better than an audiobook?