For those of you who thought baking soda volcanoes made for a pretty sweet science fair project, 12-year-old Shubham Bannerjee’s entry will absolutely blow you away. It’s an actual working braille printer that was built with about $350 worth of Lego that runs on open source software. Braille printers aren’t exactly cheap. One that can handle standard paper can still cost more than $2,000 today. Shubham’s goal was to create something that was affordable enough that could fit into the average home or classroom budget.
Braille is the tactile writing system that enables the blind to read. Printers and embossers for Braille writing are generally pretty costly, ranging from a few thousand bucks to as much as $20,000. Shubham Banerjee is a seventh-grader who turned his $350 Lego Mindstorms set into a fully-functioning (albeit much slower) Braille printer, we learn via GigaOm. The device punches Braille characters into standard receipt paper with a pushpin, creating messages that can be read by anyone who’s been trained to do so. The printer (Banerjee calls it “Braigo”) is only in its most basic form at the moment. Looking forward, he aims to make it an open-source project that will ultimately get affordable Braille printing technology to anyone who wants it.