Science & Technology

IIT-Delhi researchers develop Braille laptop for visually impaired

The laptop was developed on the basis of multiple user trials to take care of preferences and needs of the user community

 
By Umashankar Mishra
Last Updated: Friday 01 March 2019
Braille Laptop
Credit: India Science Wire Credit: India Science Wire

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, have developed a Braille laptop called DotBook, which can be useful for the visually impaired.

The laptop has got important conventional applications such as email, calculator, and web browser. Third party apps can also be added if needed.

It has been launched in two variants called 40Q and 20P. The 40Q variant can have 40 characters per line and features a conventional QWERTY keyboard and a Braille keyboard, while 20P can have 20 characters in a line and has only a Braille keyboard. The laptops are equipped with refreshable Braille display.

The laptop was developed on the basis of multiple user trials to take care of preferences and needs of the user community. Among other things, it has a specially designed hand-rest to help the users to work for long hours without any drop in efficiency. The equipment can be connected through Wifi, Bluetooth and USB. 

The project leader, M Balakrishnan, said, “DotBook represents an excellent example of user- oriented applied research. It is inter-disciplinary in nature, brings advanced techniques, low power electronics, software and User interface design together. It is a result of sustained efforts over four years of a multi-organisational team comprising academics, two industry partners and a user organisation.”

IIT-Delhi researchers have developed the laptop in collaboration with KritiKal Solutions Pvt Ltd, Noida, Pheonix Medical Systems Pvt Ltd, Chennai, Saksham Trust, New Delhi and Wellcome Trust of the UK. KritiKal Solutions will manufacture, maintain and market them. Phoenix Medical Systems will provide the modules for refreshable Braille display.

Currently, comparable 40 cell Refreshable Braille Devices cost on an average Rs 1.78 lakh, making them expensive for users even in high-income countries while being completely unaffordable for those in countries like India.

“The DotBook built on IIT-Delhi’s patented Shape Memory Alloy Technology will bring this cost down to Rs 60,000 for 40Q and Rs 40,000 for 20P variant. This will help make the Braille laptop accessible to the millions who were previously uncatered to”, Pulkit Sapra, IIT researcher, said.

Dipendra Manocha, managing director of Saksham Trust, said, "DotBook opens up digital life to Braille users. It creates an eco-system that allows people who read and write in Braille, to communicate seamlessly with the rest of the world."

The DotBook is slated to be opened for bookings starting March, 2019. Product deliveries would start later this year. (India Science Wire)

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