13-Year-Old Builds Braille Printer With Legos

It started out simple enough. California eighth-grader Shubham Banerjee had a school science fair project, and he had asked his parents how blind people read. They told him to Google it.

That’s when things became, well, amazing.

Sure enough Shubham discovered braille, the tactile writing system used by the blind and the visually impaired. After some more research, he found out that embossers, which are Braille printers, cost at least $2,000. Obviously, this is very expensive, especially for those in developing countries. Feeling that this was unfair for those who could not afford it, he went into problem-solving mode. The result? Shubham successfully built a Braille printer with the resources he had available to him: a Lego robotics kit.

Needless to say, the printer transcended the science fair to win numerous awards and enthusiastic support from the blind community. With the help of his father’s $35,000 investment, Shubham started his own company called Braigo Labs last summer to develop low-cost machines to print Braille. The company is called Braigo Labs, for Braille + Lego, and even Intel Corporation has invested in his start-up.






Braigo is using the investment money to hire engineers and advisers to develop the Braille printers. Goals include getting a prototype to blind organizations by this summer to test out, and then to put it out on the market later in the year. Shubham and the company have been gaining nationwide attention and have been featured on USA Today, Huffington Post, CBS and other media outlets.

“I just thought that price should not be there. I know that there is a simpler way to do this,” Shubham, who spent many late nights at his family’s kitchen table building the printer with a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit, old the Hindustan Times.

In the video below, Shubham demos his Braille printer:

Shubham’s ideal cost for a desktop Braille printer is $350. He also wants the printer to weigh only a few pounds (compared to models currently on the market that weigh 20 pounds) and for the printer to use raised dots instead of ink for convenience purposes.

“My end goal would probably be having most of the blind people … using my Braille printer,” said Shubham. Of course, he often turns to his father, an engineer at Intel headquarters, for advice.

“We as parents started to get involved more, thinking that he’s on to something and this innovation process has to continue,” said his father. And with the intial investment his dad had made, Shubham was able to build a more sophisticated version of his Lego-based printer using an off-the-shelf desktop printer and a newly released Intel computer chip. The new model was deemed Braigo 2.0, and can translate electronic text into Braille before printing.

With the exponential progress Braigo is making, many Intel officials are saying he will be the youngest entrepreneur to receive venture capital.



Edward Ross, the director of Inventor Platforms at Intel said, “He’s solving a real problem, and he wants to go off and disrupt an existing industry. And that’s really what it’s all about.”

And that’s not the only praise he has been receiving.

Henry Wedler is a doctorate candidate at the University of California, Davis and is blind. Of Shubham’s Braille printer, Wedler – now a Braigo advisor – calls it “a great way for people around the world who really don’t have many resources at all to learn Braille and to use it practically.”

This means being able to print out letters, grocery lists, short reading materials, and labels for the house in Braille.

While his mother is the CEO of the company since Shubham is too young, for someone who thinks on such a grand, productive and intelligent level, Shubham definitely has a bright future ahead of him.


Thailand Creates Art Exhibit For The Blind and Visually Impaired


The Thai Ministry of Tourism joined forces with Thai universities such as Chulalongkorn University and Silpakorn University to fulfill a single goal: To create a space where the visually impaired could experience art the same way others do.

Admittedly, many of us take our vision for granted when it comes to art. We forget that much of the beauty found in art exhibits — paintings, photographs and sculptures with giant “do not touch” signs in front– are only available to those of us with sight.

Well not anymore. In fact, you can kiss that “do not touch sign” goodbye.

Found in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a pilot project called “‘Feel the Happiness: Art for the Blind” aims to promote equality in the country by creating a space in which the blind and visually impaired can experience the country’s famous landmarks through feeling. For instance, there are bells in the shape of Buddha which can appeal to the sense of touch and the sense of hearing.

They hope to have artists create more sculptured and interactive artwork to be placed at Thailand’s tourist sites that allow the blind and visually impaired to experience the art.

Read more about this inspiring project here.


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Indian Inventors Create Wearable Tech Designed to Help the Blind


We’ve all probably had days where we weren’t paying attention while walking and, in the blink of an eye, accidentally took a spill or dive. I can think of multiple occasions where I’ve crashed into inanimate objects like poles or doors while walking and texting. Every time this happens, I’m left resisting the urge to scream bloody murder at the creators of all technology.

Does this sound like you, too? Well, while it’s easy to blame our devices for misguiding us in our paths, we think that this new line of interactive haptic (of or relating to the sense of touch) smart shoes designed by Indian inventors Krispian Lawrence and Anirudh Shram proves that technology is not always the devil, and can be used for worthwhile purposes. Perhaps they’ll change your mind as well.

Lechal (translating to “take me there” in Hindi), the brand name of the shoes, were initially designed to help the visually-impaired with navigation. The designers told Mashable, an Indian magazine, “People who are visually challenged rely heavily on their sense of hearing to acquaint themselves with the environment and may find audio feedback a major distraction.” With the shoes, they can instantly find their way through a buzzing sensation on either the right foot or left foot which signifies which way to turn.

But as the video below shows us, it really is for everyone, especially those who enjoy running. The shoes keep track of how many steps it took to get to your location, as well as the number of calories burned. How does it work? The shoes contain a module that can wirelessly connect to an app you can download on your phone. Through the app, the user enters his or her destination. As soon as he or she begins walking, the sensors will then send a vibration to signal a turn for the user.





Watch the ad for Lechal below:



Blind 11-Year-Old Sings Amazing “Wrecking Ball” Cover

It goes without saying that Miley Cyrus has generated quite a bit of attention for herself the past few months. Though some may shake their head at the provocative performances and the minimal amount of clothing, there’s no denying the amount of people who enjoy her music.

That includes 11-year-old Joyce Jimenez from the Philippines. In fact, Jimenez is so passionate about Cyrus’ song “Wrecking Ball” that she has no problem belting out the song for the public to see.

Although Jimenez is blind and must follow along to braille lyrics, nothing seems to stop this talented girl from letting her voice shine.

The video, which was released less than a week ago, has already been going viral and has gathered over 480,000 views. Clearly, it’s for good reason. Check out the cover below and don’t be surprised if you catch yourself with goosebumps.