Braigo Inventor 13-Yr-Old Pio Keen to Work on Other Products

Published: 01st February 2015 12:36 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st February 2015 12:36 PM   |  A+A-


NEW YORK: A 13-year-old Indian-origin boy, who invented a low cost portable Braille printer, says he wants to work on other ingenious products that will benefit people in need and encouraged youngsters to do their bit in helping society.

Shubham Banerjee, an eighth-grade student in Santa Clara, California, is receiving rave reviews and valuable support from experts and prestigious companies for his printer Braigo, which he had developed using Lego Mindstorms EV3, a robotics kit.

Banerjee is not one to rest on his laurels and says he has a "lot of ideas," which are "secret for now" and wants to work on products that will help people, particularly in developing countries.

Without disclosing details, Banerjee said he is currently working on a "pretty cool" new idea for a product which will again be useful for the visually impaired.

Banerjee, who plans to pursue a career in engineering or the scientific area, encouraged youngsters of his age to come up with original ideas that will help the society.

"Don't do something that someone's already done before. Do something original and something that helps the society," told PTI over phone from California.

"Anyone can build something to help people. Whenever you get a chance, really go out and help people," he said.

A good idea can "come from anywhere," Banerjee said pointing out that he started out on the printer using the Lego blocks and figures.

Banerjee came up with the idea of building a low-cost printer for the blind when he was working on a science fair project last year.

He said he was shocked to learn that braille printers cost over USD 2,000.

With millions of visually impaired people in the world, 90 per cent of who live in developing countries, Banerjee decided to develop a printer that was low-cost and could be used easily.

"So I thought I could make an affordable braile printer," Banerjee said.

Getting support from his father Neil, Banerjee said he worked on his product for nearly a month, at the same time focussing on his studies and other extra-curricular activities.

He said initially it was "very difficult" to build the product.

"I had to make different types of models, play around with the programming a lot but in the end they all tied together and I was able to make an affordable braile printer."

Banerjee had initially invented the open source DIY Braille printer Braigo v1.0 in February 2014 using Lego Mindstorms. He subsequently released the prototype, BraigoTM v2.0, at Intel Developer Forum.

The consumer-focused braille printer, which uses new technology and an Intel Edison chip, is portable, silent and will be offered at a price point well below currently available products for the visually impaired.

Banerjee said he and his company are currently working on the design of the printer and the final product, which he expects will be released in the market in the middle of this year.

He said he wants his product to be available in all countries so that the visually impaired people can benefit from it.

Last November, Braigo Labs announced that it has received a seed round investment from Intel Capital, Intel's global investment organization.

The funds will be used to further expand the company's R&D capabilities around the Braigo line of low-cost, portable Braille printer/embosser devices and other products catering to the accessibility markets.

The investment was announced at the Intel Capital Global Summit, where investments across a wide range of technology sectors were disclosed.

Terms of the investment, which was led by Intel Capital Managing Director Rob Rueckert, were not disclosed.

Banerjee's father Neil, who is currently Director of Integration & Validation at Intel - Education division, said irrespective of his son's effort with Braigo, he has understood that "technology should help us and not become a burden due to high cost."

He said he is happy that his son has developed the passion to work on innovation which "helps us as human beings and not on any meaningless apps for our phones. With this effort of his, hope it inspires others to innovate for social good."

Banerjee says his family in India is proud of his accomplishments.

"I feel accomplished and proud of myself for what I have been able to achieve," he said.

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