We wanted to find a way to create a hardware hack that helps others with basic needs in the technological world of today. We developed a technology that helps the blind not only read text from a computer but also type it.
What it does
The BrailleBox turns speech and text into braille that can be read with your finger. This can be used to help blind people read messages they receive as well as type their own. With use of the speech to braille function they can read the messages they say and confirm that the computer has interpreted them.
How I built it
We built this using arduinos alongside servo motors that will move the wheels to change the braille charachters. By programming pocketsphinx to translate speech to text we can send either that message or another to the arduino's console and have it show the word/sentence in braille.
Challenges I ran into
Getting the servo motors to perform the correct tasks was intially a very big problem and the arduino would often not function how we had programmed it to. We realized this may have been a power issu so by adding a delay between motors we fixed the problem of the servos. Finding a way to make these motors create braille was another issu that we solved by creating a 3D model. Servo motors only turn 180 degrees so we created a 12 sided shape and filled 7 of the sides with the 7 possible combinations of dots in each 3 by 1 column of braille.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We are both very proud of the fact our product works as we had imagined it on friday, its a joy like no other. We are happy that we managed to make the device user friendly with the addition of an ultrasonic sensor that will change charachter only when your finger has been lifted. We also added a buzzer to give auditory feedback to the reader so they know when the charachter has changed.
What I learned
We learnt a lot about arduino and arduino code. Completing a hardware hack taught us a lot about debugging circuitry and the difficulty of implementing programming into real life.
What's next for BrailleBox
We plan to implement a rasberry pi into the braille box and make it portable so it no longer needs a computer to operate.