Shubham Banerjee working with Microsoft on building Braille Printer for visually impaired people
A strong desire to find out how the blind people read, led Indian-origin, Shubham Banerjee, at the age of 12, to use his Lego toys to build a low-cost Braille printer. Banerjee, who is now 13, has found a new partner in Microsoft which is helping the young boy realize his dream of making life better for the blind by integrating his invention with Windows.
Banerjee told a Windows blogger earlier this week that “I discovered that typical Braille printers cost about $2,000 (about Rs 126,000) or even more, and I felt that was unnecessarily expensive for someone already at a disadvantage. So, I put my brain to work, and the first thing that came to mind was to create an alternative using my favorite toy.”
Finally, after seven failed attempts, he had a working printer that costed him only $350 to build.
“I achieved an 82% reduction in cost and have been overwhelmed by the encouraging feedback from both the sighted and the blind,” he was quoted in the blog.
However, he didn’t keep the device to himself. He posted a do-it-yourself manual online for whoever wanted to make it or use it.
Lot of life changing events took place in between after the invention of the device. At the age of 12, Banerjee who is from Santa Clara, California started his own company Braigo (combined Braille and Lego) Labs, and became the youngest entrepreneur to pick up venture capital funding when Intel Capital invested in his startup, Braigo Labs.
Shubham Banerjee, 13, is now working with a team of Microsoft to bring an upgraded version of his Braille printer in market, which he calls Braigo 2.0. This invention has been hailed as the first low-cost, internet-of-things enabled, silent and lightweight Braille printer.
The eight grader posted on the Microsoft Windows blog that “Our relationship with Microsoft will help Braigo achieve a seamless experience for a visually impaired person who wants to use a computer at home or at the office to print documents for offline reading.”
“Also, think about the banks, the government institutions or even the libraries where Windows-based computers are widely used. They will all benefit from having a Braigo to provide accessibility services to their visually impaired customers,” he added.
In June last year, his invention was featured at the first ever “White House Maker Faire” to “celebrate a nation of makers and help empower America’s students and entrepreneurs to invent the future”. And now Banerjee was invited by Microsoft to the White House at a tech fair organized by the company to showcase his Braigo 2.0 printer, that provides an accessible solution for the blind and disadvantaged people across the globe.
According to the reports, Banerjee is targeting a price tag of $500 dollars or less for the printer to ensure affordability for the people.