Bristol Braille Technology

Demo of 4 line Canute prototype well received by Braillists

Ed Rogers

Download the press release:
http://bristolbraille.co.uk/articles/canute_public_media_release.pdf
http://bristolbraille.co.uk/articles/canute_public_media_release.zip (including images)

Bristol Braille Technology has successfully demonstrated a 4 line prototype of Canute: expected to be the world's first multiline Braille ebook reader, which will cost less than a Braille typewriter and a fraction of the price of existing single line displays.

On Monday the 8th of September Bristol Braille Technology, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company run by volunteers, presented the Canute prototype to a group of a dozen Braillists in the Pervasive Media Studio, central Bristol. The group, who meet every other month from around the country to discuss advances in Braille technology, were overwhelmingly positive about Canute and its potential impact on Braille literacy.

The group discussed the advantages of Canute's intended final format of 28 characters by 8 lines for a lower price (estimated to be £300--440) than a Perkins Brailler™ typewriter. It was agreed that such a device would be a great boon to schools and colleges, would encourage greater adoption of Braille, not least in developing countries, and would allow individuals the freedom to purchase their own devices without subsidy.

Canute is intended to be primarily a reading device, a Braille ebook reader, as opposed to an advanced editing tool. The Braillists therefore discussed how Canute could compliment rather than replace existing single line Braille displays as a secondary `screen', especially in STEM subjects where the multiline context of tables and formulae are invaluable.

At the conclusion of the meeting Canute's ability to double up as an embosser was successfully tested. This, it was agreed, meant schools and colleges that could only afford a single unit could use it to emboss material for the entire class, and that individuals could emboss quick notes, shopping lists, recipes or letters directly off Canute's surface.

Scott Wood said: "So with Canute we would have a 28 cell by 8 line refreshable Braille that can also create hard copy Braille ... That would be amazing!"

Matt Horspool said: "At the moment we have students working on Braille notetakers. Every time they tally charts they have to revert to a Perkins [typewriter] as it's the only way you're going to see more than one line. Whereas we could say, `You can use this Bristol Braille reader'."

James Bowden said: "In the future it may be possible that there'll be all kinds of applications for Canute: ebook readers, spreadsheets, tables ... In some ways your imagination's the limit."

Ed Rogers, Founder and Director of Bristol Braille Technology, said: "Monday was the fruit of almost two years' work from the team, so it was great to see all their efforts finally validated. We're looking forward to developing Canute further over the next year as we prepare for manufacture, and are now keener than ever to work with institutions and companies with an interest in furthering the cause of universal literacy."

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