Some see LEGOS; others see opportunity. Twelve-year-old Shubham Banerjee sees both.
The 7th-grader from San Jose, CA has taken it upon himself to create a new Braille printer that's 82 percent cheaper than others on the market, and made entirely from a LEGO set. He's dubbed his device "Braigo," and he's ready to make a difference.
"I've been loving LEGOS since I was 2 years old," Shubham tells the Good News Blog. "And in the mail that came to our house, I noticed those posts that said, 'Help the blind people with donations.' I had no idea about Braille, so I asked my parents how blind people read and they said Google it."
Upon further research, Shubham discovered that typical Braille printers cost about $2,000, and he felt that was unnecessarily expensive for someone already at a disadvantage. Thus, he put his brain to work, and the first thing that came to mind was to create an alternative using his favorite toy. He took the LEGO model Mindstorms EV3 and devised a new kind of Braille printer that's only $350.
Shubham explains how Braigo works in a YouTube video, posted in January.
He says he tested 9 different editions of LEGOS before settling on Mindstorms. With the next model he's working on, he aims to enable a smartphone plug-in so people can create words in Braille through their phone. His overall intent with this project is to provide blind people with something affordable and useful.
"[Braille printers] are so costly," Shubham comments. "I don't even know how people can afford that much. It makes me sad. Why aren't people making these printers to actually help people instead of getting money from people?"
Soon, Shubham will post instructions for how others can make Braigo online, and he's hoping for donations so that he can produce more devices to help the disabled. He hopes to attend Stanford when he goes to college, and he's already making himself known around town, even winning the school science fair with his invention.
"I would like to be either scientist, surgeon or engineer, but I haven't chosen yet," says Shubham.
He does mention he's leaning toward being an engineer, and with what he's done with LEGOS, it seems to be the right path!