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Curious Bengalurean invents e-reader for blind

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 10:51 -- geeta.nair

BENGALURU: Meet a Bengalurean Paul D’Souza, who has developed Touché, which works as an e-reader for the blind.The device, a Refreshable Braille Display, has a display area or a window where there are hundreds of small pin like projections that can be felt like the embossed Braille dots on paper.

Paul explains, “These dots change as the text is being read. The result is a device that could be likened to an e-reader (like the Amazon Kindle) for the blind. Books in text format can be stored on the device or loaded using USB pen drives. The device has WiFi, ethernet and HDMI ports as well. These would be useful for transferring data or software to the machine.”

Yamuna, a visually impaired 24-year-old student at The Deepa Academy For the Differently Abled, is currently pursuing her BEd. She says, “Touché is very helpful. We can study with it. We can take notes. My friends have also found it easy to read using the device.”

Also parents, teachers or friends who do not know Braille would be able to read the text on a monitor, connected to Touché.  He adds, “With about 10GB internal memory that can be used for a library, it is estimated that between 30,000 and 50,000 books or documents can be easily stored on each device.”
Each device also comes with four USB ports. The device is an e-reader at present but Paul plans to include a keyboard/ writing or notepad option later.

The Science Geek

Paul says he has been inquisitive about how things worked all his life.
“I was encouraged to do anything that whetted my curiosity. My mom gave me a Ladybird Book at age of 5 on ‘Magnets and Magnetism’. I learned some basics about circuits, batteries, electricity and so on. This was the beginning of a love for electrical and electronic stuff.”

Encyclopaedias in the school library became his companions. He was inspired by famous inventors such as Thomas Edison, Michael Faraday, Isaac Newton, James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell.

He says, “There was also an interesting story about a famous clockmaker named John Harrison in my Radiant Reader (a series of school textbooks) in grade 2. John Harrison had made the first chronometer. My fascination for horology (study and measurement of time) has continued to this day and has resulted in an impressive collection of vintage clocks, watches and associated machinery.”

He adds that this hobby also led to acquiring skills in precision mechanical engineering which gave him necessary grounding and foundation needed to design the various small components that have been used in making this Braille Display.

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