Monday, December 4, 2023

Interactive Braille Tutor with Speech Assist Capability

The interactive braille tutor device by ideas Unlimited comprises a tutor unit and a remote unit. The tutor unit speaks out alphabets before arranging the dots when the user presses buttons on the remote unit. The quiz mode allows the students to test their learning -- Ashwin Gopinath

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“We developed the third prototype in-house and addressed the memory problem. We put a 2GB SD card inside the device to store all the sounds. Proprietary software was developed to read the SD card and play audio files in a synchronised manner in real time. The audio is reconstructed from wave files using pulse-width modulation. After getting the software and hardware right, we conducted field trials of the device. It’s then we realised that teaching Indian languages and abbreviations required two Braille cells,” explains Setty.
[stextbox id=”info” caption=”Version 2.0?”]Setty has already conceptualised the improvements he wants to see in the final (fifth, if you were counting) prototype:

1. Two Braille cells, instead of the present one, to make sure the complete Bharati Braille can be taught including matras of Indian languages
2. Built-in battery and charging capability for operation in remote/rural areas where power outages are quite frequent
3. Locally made improved solenoids (with high push force)
4. A headphone socket interface
5. Volume control facility[/stextbox]
Finally, the team started work on the fourth prototype in April this year. They still had one technical challenge to crack—the imported solenoids were too expensive to make the product viable and too low in force. This was a critical aspect to be addressed before the product was formally announced.

So the team worked with a Mumbai-based company, to design a coil for the hybrid design of a solenoid and linear motor to multiply the force of the solenoid. The solenoids are driven by Darlington transistor arrays.

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Judgement day

Setty is pretty excited about the product and how it will be received by the focus market. The product is expected to be ready for release in October this year.

“We have not announced it formally, as of yet. But we have certainly demonstrated it in various blind schools and NGOs, who are very keen to know about the production date,” informs Setty.

The author is a tech correspondent at EFY Bengaluru


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