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STUDENT R&D : BRAILLE TUTOR

BRAILLE TUTOR

A group of 6 students from Mechanical and Computer Science Dept, Ambrish Rawat, Ankit Kumar Parsurampuriya, Ashutosh Agrawal, Nipun Gupta, Raghav Gupta, Samarth Bahuguna, working together on a unique Braille Tutoring Device. The objective of this project is to develop a prototype of a cost effective and language portable assistive device, capable of facilitating Braille tutoring among the blind. The proposed device aims to incorporate audio, tactile and visual output for the user, and can be used for both self and peer-to-peer learning.

Motivation

Most of the similar devices which are currently available in the market, such as the Perkins SMART Brailler or the Next Generation Perkins Brailler, are either too expensive or suffer from other shortcomings such as the lack of interactive learning and no tactile output. The most comprehensive device is made by Humanware but it is too exorbitantly priced for it to be affordable to a majority of the consumers. Also, traditional methods of Braille tutoring such as the slate and stylus have some inherent drawbacks.

Device Components

Input
  • Standard QWERTY keyboard
  • 6-key Perkins-style keyboard
Output
  • Speaker
  • Graphic LCD
  • Refreshable Braille Cells
Control Unit
  • Raspberry Pi single-board computer
  • Arduino Due and Teensy 3.0 microcontrollers

Block Diagram

Design Details

The central control unit of the device is a Raspberry Pi, which communicates with the various device peripherals and microcontrollers via USB. The Raspberry Pi is powered by a 5V micro USB charger, though it will run on a Li-ion battery in the final proposed device. It is loaded with Raspbian operating system and runs the device software written in Python on booting.

The peripherals consist of a 6-key Perkins-style Braille keyboard and a USB standard keyboard (QWERTY). The 6-key keyboard uses a Teensy 3.0 microcontroller to connect via USB to the Raspberry Pi. The device will support the plugging in and usage of two keyboards simultaneously to implement exercises and games for interactive learning between two users.

eSpeak speech synthesizer in Python is used for generating audio output. This is provided to the speaker via an audio jack for speech navigation. A graphic LCD will be used to display the software interface for easier navigation between menus, exercises etc. In subsequent phases of the project, tactile output may also be provided by interfacing a Refreshable Braille Cell array with the control unit.