Braigo Build instructions and Software links available for FREE DOWNLOAD as promised by Shubham Banerjee. The Braigo event calendar is published to facilitate anyone requesting Shubham's time for interviews or events. Read: Braigo inspired Seattle based companies battle it out at Lego Mindstorms Build 4 Good Challenge
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The challenges with assistive technologies currently available are either too expensive or difficult to obtain for normal people without government or non-profit sponsorships. According to WHO reports, there are estimated 285 million visually impaired people worldwide and 90% of them live in developing countries. At this moment the cost of a braille printer is more than $2000 for a basic version. Thus many millions of people across the world have limited access. If we could reduce the cost to below $500, we could already reduce the cost by 75%. To give access to easily assemble and build a braille printer for the masses, the basic ability of DO-IT-YOURSELF (D-I-Y) is key. The kit should be readily available at stores or procured online from reputable websites to make the process easy for adoption. Most printers operate in X (to move the print head) -Y (to push the paper) – Z (to print or not to print) co-ordinates. The printer has to be compact and self-explanatory. Engineering as a discipline is the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to design, build, maintain, and improve structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes. In this experiment, I relied on my love of LEGO and readily available Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit to build a D-I-Y Braille printer and program the device to print in Braille. I worked with a constraint that all parts should be from one kit and maybe some low cost readily available add-ons to make such a printer. After studying the Braille language; I understood that a visually impaired individual feels through his/her fingers the bumps on a paper through a combination of 6 dots. If we could make a printer that prints (by making holes in a paper) as a mirror image of the letter and when flipping the page we should be able to translate letters into BRAILLE. I used rapid prototyping concepts where I tried to build models and programing it to see if I am able to get the desired results. I had to build and break 7 different models before settling on a final one that was able to print the six dots in a desired sequence according to the Braille standards. After which, I programmed the letters A-Z. I used a normal calculator paper to provide the proof of concept. I have validated my version 1.0 of BRAIGO and potential small updates in software necessary to perfect for the next version 2.0 at Santa Clara Valley Blind Center based in San Jose and also with Hoby Wedler at his laboratory in UC Davis. I would say that the first prototype of the proof of concept has been successful and me providing the building instructions and software as open source will provide a low cost alternative solution to the visually impaired community. I achieved a 82% reduction in cost and have been overwlemed by the encouraging feedback from both the sighted and the blind equally.! - from the abstract submitted at Synopsis Science Fair by Shubham Banerjee
Motivation behind developing BRAIGO [ Youtube video]
This project uses the Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit costing $349 and some add-ons from Home-depot costing another $5 to prove that its feasible to make a brail printer for education purposes and schools that's much cheaper. The project uses the base reference model known as Banner Print3r thats included with the EV3 set (credit: Ralph Hempel) and was redesigned with totally new software to print letters A-Z. The project is named as BRAIGO v1.0 in short for Brail with LEGO. There are endless possibilities to add enhancements in software to make BRAIGO do a lot more.
BRAIGO detailed Demo [Youtube video]
Shubham made and broke 7 models , before settling with one base model and started to make mechanical enhancements and coding from scratch (after analyzing the code that came with the model) - This was like almost 5 days before he had a deadline to submit for his school's science fair project
The student wishes to make this project open source (already started to upload the concepts) with the design and software readily available for public consumption free of charge. Thus giving a new tool in the hands of blind institutions or even parents with visually impaired children to use this printer at a 80% savings from commercially available products out there in the market.
In Shubham's own words - "I've been loving LEGOS since I was 2 years old. And in the mail that came to our house in December 2013, I noticed those posts that said, 'Help the blind people with donations.' I had no idea about Braille, so I asked my parents how blind people read and they said Google it ! Upon further research, I discovered that typical Braille printers cost about $2,000 or even more, and I felt that was unnecessarily expensive for someone already at a disadvantage. Thus, I put my brain to work, and the first thing that came to mind was to create an alternative using my favorite toy. I took the LEGO model Mindstorms EV3 and devised a new kind of Braille printer that's only $350. It took me 3 weeks and I broke and re-assembled 7 or so different types of models before settling on one and programing it. My dad was my guide whenever I got stuck. He works a lot, even from home after he comes back from office. He used to sit down with me on the kitchen table , while he continued with his conference calls and work, I worked on building the model. For the couple of weeks , it was very long days for me. I started working on Braigo after I finished my homework and assignments and some days , I was awake till 2 am. But it was all worth it. "
In a recent update , posted by the student on BRAIGO's Facebook Page on Feb 13, 2014, he has mentioned some of the ideas behind the concept.
1) This Braigo v1.0 is the proof of concept to show - IT WORKS
2) I am not assembling and selling BRAIGO
3) Braille as a language has lots of variants all over the world. This DIY (Do-It-Yourself) approach towards a Braille printer, gives the opportunity to educational institutions and even parents to have a cheaper options to teach Braille
4) No , this model doesn't print thousands of words/minute - but has a range of 5-7 secs/letter
5) At this moment you input one letter at a time - But I am working on the next version where a full page can be recognized through the bluetooth module in EV3
6) I did not patent the idea, I didn't want to go through the expensive process. I will buy another kit and work on the V2.0, I am in contact with other Blind institutes for further enhancements.
7) It started off as a project for my science fair, but looks like I may have hit on something new.
8) I want to give away the design and code for free , so that anyone can take the idea and develop further.
9) The idea came from the fact that currently the Braille printers are so costly, I wanted to see if there is a possibility to reduce the cost. In developed world its subsidized by the govt. , but in developing countries - its too much.
10) Yes, the concept can be used to develop a totally new printer, but its too much for me as a 12 year old. I have asked my father's friends who are mechanical engineers to help.
11) Please consider , that I have done what I was capable of at this moment. I am not a company or selling a totally new revolutionary product. I came up with a concept, so that others can take it further.
12) Yes, I am thankful for all your kind words and your encouragement. I hope to contribute further in the field of science and engineering in the future
13) If any of you have any doubts about the BRAIGO and its practical implications, I think the public reception and acceptance to the concept is a proof enough.
14) Youtube videos may not be descriptive enough, but whoever saw the model in front of them understood how it works and its application in real life.
Please check this space for more updates as I grow more into further improving what I already have. The media reception has been overwhelming , not because I am a 12 year old who took a lego and made a Braille printer. But its was because, I think, about the idea itself. I am humbled by all your support and look forward to take this further.
He has already received a special recognition for his project on behalf of the California State Assembly - Link to youtube video and speech and the public reception to the concept was overwhelming.
One such example is from Roman Reed, from Roman Reed Foundation. Check the video.
"I was reading news on the internet when I saw your name pop up and I could not believe it. I instantly knew it was you! I knew you were quiet, absorbing everything and smart. You had a twinkle in your eye and a good sense of humor and, always the gentleman. Congratulations on your creative invention that will help others. I am so proud of your fine accomplishment and strong work ethic. You made a difference and I could not be happier!You have so much potential!" - Ms.Brenna Burnette , Don Callejon School (Shubham's Kindergarten Teacher)
Lego gifted Shubham the Education version of EV3 along with Bonus components, received on Feb 27, 2014
National Intruments the maker of the Labview Software gifted Shubham the NI Labview for Mindstorms - received on Feb 24, 2014
On April 6, 2014 - Shubham won the 2014 Synopsis Outreach Foundation n+1 award for Physical Sciences.
About: Shubham Banerjee is an American. He was born in Hasselt, Belgium. The family moved to San Jose, California when he was 3 years old. Later he moved to Santa Clara, Claifornia and completed his elementary schooling at Don Callejon School. He joined Magnolia Science Academy in Santa Clara in middle school for couple of months , before moving to Champion School in San Jose where he is continuing his 7th grade. He continues to reside in Santa Clara, California.