Students of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K), who developed a prototype of a Braille slate called ‘Anubhav’, were presented with the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award-2017 during a function held at Rashtrapati Bhawan on March 5.
The brainchild of Sachin NP and Vimal Chandru, design programme students who worked under the guidance of Prof Shantanu Bhattacharya, the Braille slate has two polymer-based pads hinged to one side, a single row of metal stencil with Braille cell patterns etched on it and an ergonomic stylus with a hollow cylindrical tube.
The Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Awards celebrate the spirit of student innovation in all fields of engineering, science, technology and design through affordable solutions. A jubilant Sachin, who graduated from IIT-K and is currently working with a German company, said: “The award is a reward for our hard work. It will inspire us to do more innovation and bring about a change in society. Technology should be used for the betterment and welfare of society.”
The innovators claimed that before this there had been no single device that could help the visually impaired read and write simultaneously. “So we thought of sorting out the issue. The idea was to make a single device that can perform the functions of both the Braille slate and the Taylor’s board,” said Sachin and Vimal.
‘Anubhav’ consists of cells with raised dots arranged on a slate and a stencil that slides down vertically from one row to the other. Using the hollow-tube stylus, the raised dots can be embossed on a paper placed between the pads.
“The device has been tested with visually impaired children in Kanpur (Andh Vidyalaya students), and the results have been very encouraging,” claimed Sachin, adding, “This project has been in progress for the past one year. ‘Anubha’ was the result of thorough research. Now, we are trying to approach the state government to make this product available in the market.”
For GYTI Awards 2017, there were 2,715 nominations from 308 institutions and universities from 27 states and two Union Territories across 54 different subject disciplines. This year, 22 innovations were selected for the award and another 17 for appreciation.
How does the slate function?
The lower pad on the slate comprises 23 rows and 26 columns of embossed Braille cell dots, placed equidistantly. The upper pad holds the grooves for the stencil and the line numbers embossed on either side of the railing to ensure that the stencil is in place at all times.
The user has to sandwich the Braille paper between the pads and clip it firmly. The metal stencil is then placed in any given row with the guidance of line numbers. “The user can now start writing with the help of the stylus, within the guided cell pattern available on the stencil,” said Vimal.
When the raised dot on the lower pad and the hollow surface of the stylus are in contact with the sandwiched paper, an impression is formed on the paper. To switch from one row to the other, the user only needs to flip the stencil.
The stencil can be easily manoeuvred to any row or column, eventually helping the user read and write simultaneously.