The BecDot is our flagship project and is an educational toy that will be used to introduce braille at an early age to children who are visually impaired or who have been diagnosed with conditions that will eventually cause blindness. The device incorporates four braille cells that spell out the words of physical objects. The objects incorporate programmed NFC tags attached to them.
The biggest challenge with the design was to create a device that was very low cost. We researched many of the Braille readers on the market and found that primarily these devices are very complex and as a result make them very expensive for the consumer. This is why not many devices are designed for children and most of the focus is on the older Braille reader, I mean who wants to give a 3 year old a $1000+ device. This is where after some trial and a lot of error we came up with a design which could enable us to bring the device to market for a very low cost, enabling families, care givers, and educators the ability to easily afford the device. The innovation comes in the actuators that are lifting the individual braille cells and one evening we designed a new concept that we are using in the device. Once we had that figured out and got the first prototype cell working, We immediately scaled it up to four cells which we thought was a good starting point for the age group we were targeting.
The Lea Puzzle
The Lea shapes are used to test a child’s visual acuity. The Lea shapes are made up of four shapes that children can easily identify, the shapes are a square, circle, apple, and house. These shapes will eventually be used to test a child’s visual acuity, similar to an eye chart that you would see at an eye exam visit but instead with shapes. This is typically not necessary for a child with typical vision but in the case of a child with low vision doctors begin assessing vision between the ages of one and two years of age where as in children with normal vision it is more around 4-5 where they already have an understanding of letters and numbers and therefore can use the normal eye chart. So when a parent leaves their first appointment with the ophthalmologists they are handed a piece of paper and told to have the child learn the shapes. Not surprisingly a piece of paper with black and white shapes is less than adequate for the job so we developed a fun interactive way to help children learn these shapes.