Now, the blind can walk into a library, pick up a book of their choice and allow the converter to transcribe it for them.
The device, BBook, which converts text into Braille real-time, is the brainchild of two Computer Science Engineering students — Rohit N and Ruchitha D J-belonging to Bengaluru’s MVJ College.
Inventors of the device explained that the scarcity of Braille books –less than 1% of the printed books are transcribed into Braille- as the major reason behind designing the converter.
Braille books are heavy and unwieldy, they point out. For instance, a 500-page Braille book weighs at least four kilos. Moreover, they cost ten times more than regular books.
Hooked to the internet, the BBook can also download news articles and magazines and transcribe them for the user’s benefit.
“Characters are picture-mapped and converted to Braille,” said Rohit, adding that the device allows the blind to access books that remained out of reach for them.
Besides the hard copy, BBook can convert even digital materials. “These could either be in PDF or Word format,” Rohit said. “Digital books can be converted letter-by-letter.”
“Initially, we weren’t sure if the product would make a difference. We visited Sri Rakum School for the Blind in Indiranagar and interacted with the teachers. With their encouragement, we took two months to work on the converter,” Rohit said.
They tested the proto-type of the product with the blind students of Rakum School. “The students have suggested some minor changes and we’re working on it. Once the product is ready to be marketed, we expect its price to be below Rs 5,000,” Rohit said.