About 0.2 - 2% of the population suffers from deaf-blindness and many of them do not have the necessary resources to afford accessible technology. This inspired us to build a low cost tactile, braille based system that can introduce accessibility into many new situations that was previously not possible.
What it does
We use 6 servo motors controlled by Arduino that mimic braille style display by raising or lowering levers based upon what character to display. By doing this twice per second, even long sentences can be transmitted to the person. All the person needs to do is put their palm on the device. We believe this method is easier to learn and comprehend as well as way cheaper than refreshable braille displays which usually cost more than $5,000 on an average.
How we built it
We use Arduino and to send commands, we use PySerial which is a Python Library. To simulate the reader, we have also build a smartbot with it that relays information to the device. For that we have used Google's Dialogflow. We believe that the production cost of this MVP is less than $25 so this product is commercially viable too.
Challenges we ran into
It was a huge challenge to get the ports working with Arduino. Even with the code right, pyserial was unable to send commands to Arduino. We later realized after long hours of struggle that the key to get it to work is to give some time to the port to open and initialize. So by adding a wait of two seconds and then sending the command, we finally got it to work.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
This was our first hardware have to pulling something like that together a lot of fun!
What we learned
There were a lot of things that were learnt including the Arduino port problem. We learnt a lot about hardware too and how serial ports function. We also learnt about pulses and how sending certain amount of pulses we are able to set the servo to a particular position.
What's next for AddAbility
We plan to extend this to other businesses by promoting it. Many kiosks and ATMs can be integrated with this device at a very low cost and this would allow even more inclusion in the society. We also plan to reduce the prototype size by using smaller motors and using steppers to move the braille dots up and down. This is believed to further bring the cost down to around $15.