Squirrel Devices Tactile Caliper: Accessible Ruler for Users with Blindness

Pranay Jain and Anshul Singhal are two Ph.D. candidates from MIT.  They’re also the developers at Squirrel Devices.  Squirrel Devices’ mission is to “enable Math and Science accessibility for students with blindness.”  Their first commercial product is the Squirrel Devices Tactile Caliper, which is a “geometry instrument for persons with blindness to measure and draw with high precision and speed.”

While many students have requested talking instruments to help them measure items, the duo was determined to create an affordable solution without any electrical faults.  Their Tactile Caliper is an accurate, low-cost ruler for anyone who is visually impaired.  The device provides a braille output to 1/16th of an inch; it can measure objects up to 12 inches in size.

squirrel devices tactile caliper

The caliper’s design allows for small objects to be inserted into the caliper’s opening.  This eliminates common problems for students who have difficulty holding a ruler steady and lining up a ruler to begin measuring.

Features of Squirrel Devices Tactile Caliper:

  • Complete reading displayed in braille
  • Measurements fine to 1/16th of an inch
  • Only measures in inches
  • Subtle auditory cues (clicks) when operated
  • Helps develop tactile and spatial skills and confidence in daily activities
  • Serves users of all ages in day-to-day activities
  • Completely mechanical with no electronics or batteries required

How to use the Tactile Caliper:

  1. Hold measurable object between caliper’s jaws
  2. Read the closest inch marking from the ruler
  3. Read the fraction from the Mechanical Braille Display

The National Braille Press sells the Tactile Caliper for $18.

Squirrel Devices is currently producing two more products: Metric Tactile Caliper and the Tactile Protractor.