Braille screen technologies currently exist, but they are Expensive. We have two components to our hack, one is an LED display light up that will display letters of the alphabet in braille, and another is a servo prototype. We hope that people can use this hack as an alternative to make a simple affordable refreshable braille screen for their children. We have also made out of copyright classic works found at found at Project Gutenberg available for reading without having to custom order a braille print version of the books, and Alexa will read out from the book as one reads along with the braille screen.

Challenges:

Firstly, we were limited by hardware. We only managed to borrow three servos, while a single braille character requires 6 dots. For the first prototype, we therefore moved to using a set of 6 LEDs to indicate movable components, and represent a single braille character at a time as arudino parses the text.

For the next prototype, we tried using getting the 3 servos that we did have to work, and to represent a proof of concept for the braille system. However, we found that servos consume a lot of power, power that the arduino was not able to supply. We tried working around this by using two arduinos to power our prototype, but found out that we really do need to use batteries to power 3 servos. Unfortunately, the hardware station was out of batteries, so we settled for using just demoing 1 servo.

We create a chassis for our 3 servos using the 3D printer, however, we forgot that the real world is not perfect, and we forgot to put in enough allowances for our cover, and so as a workaround, we used a soldering iron to make some holes bigger.

We had problems with downloading the Project Gutenberg python library, and google was scarce on the knowledge of the problem, so we had to make a custom Gutenberg scrapping python program that uses beautiful-soup. Another problem we had was that Project Gutenberg is fussy with automatic downloaders of their books, so if we sent them too many requests in too short a time span, they put a CAPTCHA black list on us.

What's next:

  • Hopefully you'll get to see Alexa integration at the hackathon
  • Implementation of grade 2 braille for reading books
  • A fully functional servo braille screen with at least 6 servos

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