Braigo – the Lego-made Braille printer built by a twelve year old

Shubham Banarjee built a cheap alternative to Braille printers from his Lego Mindstorms kit.

Shubham Banarjee took an existing concept from his Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit and transformed it into a Braille printer. The project started as an entry for his school’s science fair and is now pushing through the media cycle.

The process of designing the Braille bumper took several design and programming iterations. Cost was the major driver for the redesign, as sight impaired users in developing countries do not have access to affordable printing methods. Commercial printers can cost up to $2000 but Banarjee estimates that his device costs around $350, most of which comes from the Lego development kit.

Shubham’s device is a proof-of-concept piece with several question marks and lots of plans for the future. He would like the device to be open source with plans for the build and the programming both available online.

The device punches holes in the paper – the video above shows the print head device and construction along with a demonstration. As the machine is developed further I would guess that the paper punching will move toward dot forming to more closely resemble current Braille printing.

A major goal for the next generation of Braigo is the ability to scan an entire page of text and then convert that to a page of Braille type. Currently the printing is done on a letter by letter basis, and spaces must be entered separately. Printing one letter takes somewhere between five and ten seconds, the published speeds vary between different videos and articles.

Braigo is making a splash everywhere right now. I heard about the project through NPR but news outlets as diverse as Gawker and The New York Daily News have covered the printer. Braigo is using a Facebook page as its defacto website and Banarjee’s father has started a Kinja page for media to pull information and photos.  

Shubham has hit on an incredible project that he built in his own personal maker space in Santa Clara, California. Any adult engineer would be proud of this accomplishment but for a twelve year old this is a huge win. I’m looking forward to further development and new inventions from Banarjee.