One day, 12-year-old Shubham Banerjee saw a poster about a fundraiser for the blind. Wondering how blind people read, he asked his father about it. His father told Shubham to Google it, and when he did, Shubham learned about Braille and how expensive Braille printers are. So he decided to build one himself—out of Legos.
Braille is a type of writing made up of tiny raised dots that are arranged in a pattern. Each pattern stands for a different letter, like a code, and Braille-users read the letters by feeling them with their fingertips. Braille lets people who cannot see still enjoy reading books and magazines, but the printers cost more than $2000. Shubham’s new Lego printer, called the Braigo, cost only $350 to build.
Shubham built the Braigo using a Lego Mindstorms kit and a basic pattern for building a printer. After you choose a letter, the printer’s software tells it what pattern to make. The paper is a long roll of calculator paper, and the print head is a thumbtack that makes a tiny bump in the paper.
Shubham’s Lego version of the Braigo was just a prototype (a model or practice version), but the software company Intel has invested in his idea. The new printer, Briago 2.0, is made of more standard materials and looks like a normal printer. It is the lightest and cheapest Braille printer ever made, and it could be especially useful in poor countries that can’t afford the expensive versions.
Shubham was very excited to have such a large company invest in his idea. He has been traveling all over the country to demonstrate the Braigo, and is inspired by all the people that believe in him. “I feel more passionate than ever about what I’m doing,” he said. “The sky’s the limit.”