I had an interesting email recently, and in answering it I thought the responses would benefit other visitors – so here it is a mini FAQ of the project so far:
- How will this display be marketed?
Currently, it’s design only, not marketing. Once I have a design I like, I plan to manufacture it if I can raise the funds. However, since I will be publishing all details online, and will be available (time permitting) to answer questions, I believe anyone could start manufacturing them, even if I am unable to.
- Who will write a screenreader so it can be used with a computer?
The design uses a serial (USB) port running at 9600 baud, which is a common communication protocol. I have talked to the folks involved with brltty, a Braille text driver suitable for Linux system; I believe it can be adapted readily to their protocol, which is a very common one in the Linux world (it comes installed I believe on all Linux distributions by default). As well, the source code to the device will be published, meaning that even if a particular protocol or device or software program is not supported, a programmer should be able to adapt it.
- What is your time table for developing the product?
As for the timeline, I am currently working on improving the first prototype, and hope to have a second prototype by early February. This next one will be a full 40 characters (instead of the initial five) and will be close to the final product – barring unforeseen occurrences.
- There have been other attempts to develop a cheap Braille display but they didn’t amount to anything, so what’s the likelihood that you would develop a marketable product?
I agree that there have been many failed Braille devices – in my initial research, I saw that and realized much of it was because of closed source designs. So I decided to make all research Open, so that anyone could make it. I hope by February to have enough source code and designs online that anyone could build it, company or individual, and get reasonable performance (note: because of the design, it likely will never compete with a $7000 device on speed, however, I’m hoping that is the only lack). As for the likelihood, I don’t see any technical challenges in the current design, only time and resources. I’m committed to getting this out and – God willing – I will.
I hope this answers some questions out there!