12-Year-Old Builds Low-Cost Braille Printer

(WLNS) – When Shubham Banerjee, a middle schooler from San Jose, California, and the youngest CEO Intel has ever invested in, walked onto the stage to demo his product, Moderator Cory Johnson said, to crowd laughs, “So I see this kid here, where’s the CEO?”

Banerjee founded Braigo Labs after discovering a serious price problem in the market early this year. Banerjee, who just turned 13 in October, discovered that printers that print Braille, a readable alphabet for the blind, were extremely expensive.

Banerjee, a California seventh grader, is one of those kids whose heart and mind extend well beyond his own life and into the the wider world beyond. For a science fair project, he contemplated the issue of braille printers, which can cost upwards of $2,000, and decided there must be a better way.

The better way he came up with involved the clever use of a $350 Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit along with a few bucks worth of hardware from Home Depot. He took a basic, preexisting pattern for a printer and reworked it with new software and hardware enhancements to print out letters in braille. The result is called the Braigo.

The Braigo’s controller is set up to scroll through the alphabet. You choose a letter and it prints it out with tactile bumps on a roll of calculator paper. The print head is actually a thumbtack, which Banerjee settled on after also testing a small drill bit and a mechanical pencil.

The first prototype isn’t terribly fast, but it proves the concept works. Banerjee is working on improvements that will allow it to print full pages of text.

Banerjee isn’t content to just sit on his creation. He is in the process of making it all open-source so people anywhere can create their own Braigos and advance the software to extend its capabilities. He hopes it will be particularly useful in developing countries where it’s simply not practical to buy an expensive braille printer.

Braille is just one of the tools available for the Michigan Supreme Court’s first blind justice. Richard Bernstein joined the high court January first of this year. He’s taking on the new challenge the only way he knows: straight-ahead. Tonight Jane Aldrich introduces you to Justice Bernstein in an in-depth interview “Blind Justice” on 6 News at 6.

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