An Invention to Enhance Learning of Braille
January 5, 2011
School of Engineering, Amritapuri
Students of the School of Engineering at Amritapuri achieved another milestone, as they qualified to receive hardware worth Rs. 2,23,000 for a project to develop a Smart Camera Module. This support from National Instruments was secured by Anil C. S. and Sanjay S., final-year students of EEE, working under the guidance of their faculty members, Deepak E. S. and Akshay Nagarajan.
A multi-national that designs, prototypes and deploys systems for test, control and embedded applications, the company will also provide students with the LabVIEW software for their project.
The proposed project is an effort to reinforce Braille literacy among the community of the visually debilitated.
The students described their reason for taking it on.
“Now that there are computers that can speak to users, read them their email and scan printed material, Braille literacy among the blind is no longer as important as it once was.”
“But statistically, history has shown that proficiency in reading Braille helps visually impaired children develop an essential skill set that allows them to compete effectively with their peers with normal eyesight. This applies not only in schools, but also later in their lives, as they enter the corporate world.”
The students cited a study conducted internationally that found that people who learned Braille at an early age did just as well, if not better, than people with normal eyesight in several areas, including vocabulary and comprehension.
Seeking to introduce a method to transcribe text that is optically recognizable to Braille, the students participated in the NI-YANTRA contest conducted by National Instruments. Their prototype model impressed the company so much that it was selected for further development.
The proposed system consists of a camera and a Braille embosser. The camera captures the image of the text written in English, which is then converted into the Braille script. After a tactile interface helps text-proof, the Braille embosser then “prints” it.
“The smart camera incorporates an image sensor, a processor and digital I/O in a compact, rugged housing,” the students explained. “It simplifies machine vision by analyzing images directly on the camera with the powerful, embedded processor capable of running different vision algorithms.”
The students expect to complete the project within the next four months, by which time they will be ready to graduate. They are working hard to build something that will be user-friendly.
“The camera that we will use is light weight; it can carry out all the text-to-Braille conversions within itself as a standalone unit. We are trying to make the Braille embosser light weight also so as to make it a portable system.”
The students will present their work on the multilevel inverter they used at the IEEE International Conference for Power Electronics.
“The ability to read and write is very important for a successful education, career and an independent living. We hope that this device will help the visually impaired find success.”