Engineers open the Internet to all

Former students of CMRIT have devised a reader that can help visually challenged access online data

Published: 14th August 2017 09:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2017 09:41 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: While the Internet has become a basic human necessity, the blind and visually impaired have little means to access it. As a way to help such people, a group of engineers from the city have built a device that converts online text into braille.

Called Sparsh, the device uses electro-mechanical technology that reproduces the content of a smartphone or a computer on a rolling display in braille. Powered by a Dynamic Braille Board or dBB, it enables streaming of digital data into its equivalent braille output in real-time.

(L-R) The team of engineers behind Sparsh and a woman testing out the device designed exclusively for the visually challenged

While similar devices are available in the market, Kiran L, a telecommunication engineer who along with three other friends developed the device, points out a number of features that are unique to Sparsh. They are all former students of the CMR Institute of Technology.

“One of the most unique features of our device is the fact that its users can scroll through the text at their own pace. This is a feature that is not available in most products. They have a standard speed that cannot be customised to match the reading abilities of users. Some may be fast readers while others are slow and our the device caters to one and all,” he adds.

Another feature is an audio bookmark that marks the page they stopped at. The device also comes with a self-learning feature, which means that you do not need anyone's assistance on how to use it.
The main USP of the device is its price. While so far only the prototype has been built and once finished it will cost around Rs 6,000. or even lesser. “For a similar product, the normal charges are anywhere around $2,000 outside India. The cheapest price in India is around `60,000 to ` 70,000. This device will be the first of its kind in India, but it is not a breakthrough invention,” Kiran says.  

The team plan to approach corporates and the government for commercialisation after the final product is made. Sparsh consists of a single cell forming a rolling display that is projected onto the user’s finger, thereby enabling them to read out digital content. The device can be connected to a computer or phones via Bluetooth. It has a memory card. Once it is switched on, the user can connect to it with an earphone via an audiojack and browse the files. The machine also reads out the file names or they can also use the braille display to read and select the files.


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