Thursday, May 19, 2011

Concept: Braille Tutor with Sound playback support

Greetings! It has been a while since we posted an update on this blog. A few projects in progress and a few products going out kept us a little busy. But now we hope to provide regular updates.

The Braille system [Link: Wikipedia on Braille] is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write, and was the first digital form of writing. Braille was devised in 1825 by Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman. Each Braille character, or cell, is made up of six dot positions, arranged in a rectangle containing two columns of three dots each.

The idea for this concept evolved by observing the training given to young blind children at a local blind school in Mysore. Conventionally blind children are given training using a wooden base plate with 6 slots and six marbles.Children who have not yet been introduced to braille are taught with this in a class where both the instructor and children are blind. Most of the time marbles get dropped and the children end up searching for them more than actually learning Braille. So this device was invented to help the training of blind students easy and faster.
Conventional Method of teaching Brialle. Wooden board and Marbles. Picture above shows Braille alphabet 'A'
Number '1' shown in braille using conventional teaching methods.
 The first version just had loud beeps to indicate next and previous characters. This version actually has Voice to speak out the character being shown by the solenoids. The device spells "A" and then sets the solenoids to show 'A".

This device uses six micro-solenoids with wooden beads mounted on top to create a braille impression. The beads are large in size so that it compares to the training methodology used in Blind schools in India. Along with solenoids, the device also has an in-built speaker with sound playback capability! Recorded PCM Audio is played back for each character before the solenoids pop up to show a particular Braille Character.

The Braille Tutor's Remote Control

The Braille Tutor Unit
A simple and user-friendly remote has been designed to make one hand operation (left hand at that) possible while right hand is free to feel the braille character by the blind student. Remote provides following buttons for navigation.
  1. Next Character (A --> B --> C ... )
  2. Previous Character (D --> C --> B ...)
  3. Home (First letter in language)
  4. End (Last letter in language)
  5. Language change (Supports Kannada, English, Numbers and Symbols as of now). 
This concept has been realized by the following students of SJCE with lab and technical support  from Ideas Unlimited:

Chaithra V Shweta
Apoorva P Akshata
Our next update on this blog will be on GeOS-1M GLONASS Navigation Module from Geostar Navigation Design Bureau - who have provided us with one sample GeOS-1 GLONASS module and dev kit for evalutation.

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