For the nearly two million blind and visually impaired people in the US, identification of objects is a challenge. While there are tools commercially available to produce Braille labels, they are counter-intuitive and frustrating for the user.
Of the many strategies used to identify items, labeling is the most intuitive and practical. More importantly, labeling allows people who would otherwise have had to rely on the help of a sighted friend to achieve full independence in daily tasks.
Our product is a portable electromechanical Braille label maker that features the standard six-button Braille typing configuration, while resolving many of the issues that other labeling technologies have not addressed. The project began in a senior design class, where our team developed a successful alpha prototype, demonstrating reliability and a huge step up from the current Braille labeling technology. However, there are still improvements to be made before our prototype can be easily manufactured in greater numbers.
By maintaining close relations with the organizations for the blind in the Boston area, we have managed to secure hundreds of contacts from around the world that have expressed a great deal of interest in seeing this product hit the market, including manufacturers of Braille-related products. We are in the process of choosing a company that will help us manufacture the device, and ultimately get it into the hands of the blind community.
Karina Pikhart, MIT '09, Stanford G -- Karina has been with the project since it started in October 2008, where she served as a System Integrator for the senior mechanical engineering design team that created the idea. She has expertise in all areas of the project and how they work together, and spent a substantial amount of time working on the advanced CAD model of the product. Karina also has attended two conferences with the project and has given presentations about the project several times to a variety of audiences. She is currently working primarily on writing applications for funding; however, she intends to keep working on this project over the summer, during which time she will be machining and assembling more labeler iterations and working closely with the manufacturer of our product.
Trevor Shannon, MIT '11 -- Joining the team in February 2009, Trevor brings expertise in design, machining, and electronics, and also brings a fresh perspective on the product and ways to approach its design challenges. He is responsible for all the circuitry in our device, and has programmed our new circuit board from scratch. He is currently working on the machining and assembly of our second embossing module, and is concurrently working on a better design for the tape loading area.
Adelaide Calbry-Muzyka, MIT '09, Stanford G -- Adelaide is serving as the IDEAS team System Integrator during the spring 2009 semester and has been working on this project since October 2008. Last fall she managed the team's budget while working on the design of our prototype's cutting mechanism, one of its critical features and biggest design challenges. In her integrating role she organizes regular team meetings, manages our IDEAS development grant budget, and facilitates the machining of parts and integration of assembly for our next prototype.
Katie Dektar, Stanford '11 -- Katie is building our beautiful website! www.braillelabeler.net
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