Just a Few Questions…

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!

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2 thoughts on “Just a Few Questions…

  1. Hi,

    I have some questions if you have a chance to respond.

    How long is a line refresh in your current prototype with a limited number of characters?

    What is your goal for refresh speed?

    How is the refresh triggered by the reader?

    I may have missed this information. If I did sorry to make you repeat yourself.

    • I just put out a post indicating my speed goals, and what I think is realistic for the display:

      http://www.utopiamechanicus.com/915/refreshable-display-gearing/

      The problem with the current prototype is that it is made of acrylic – unfortunately, while it looks nice it flexes quite a bit, making it awkward to speed up the motors and see how fast I can go. The next prototype will have a more rigid chassis.

      As for the refresh coding, I plan to add buttons as appropriate so you can do cursor up/down, etc – however, getting reliable/fast text display on the machine is the first priority.

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