A 13-year-old California boy, Shubham Bannerjee, has become one of the world’s youngest entrepreneurs by inventing a low-cost Braille printer.
He was inspired by the shock of seeing that most Braille printers, known as embossers, cost around $2,000 USD – a huge investment for anyone. They are also extremely heavy. Bannerjee’s dream was of a cheap, lightweight version that would be accessible to everyone. He showed the Lego prototype at a White House inventors’ event attended by President Barack Obama. The original Braigo v1.0 printer used Lego’s Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit alongside parts from a local DIY shop. Users wrote text via an attached keypad, which the machine then converted into braille.
Electronic braille has great potential for improving accessibility to the wealth of information on the internet, but has so far been held back by the high cost of devices. A low-cost braille printer could transform reading choices for people with sight loss who read braille.
Until now, Mr Banerjee’s company – Braigo Labs – had relied on funding from his parents to turn his idea into a proper Silicon Valley start-up, but it’s recently been invested in by the tech giant Intel Corp,.
He is now working on a follow-up version, which is powered by Intel’s low-cost Edison chip and uses 3D-printed parts.