Bristol Braille Technology

BBC article about refreshable Braille mentions Bristol Braille

append delete Ed Rogers

Johny Cassidy from the BBC has written a piece neatly outlining the challenges facing Braille:

Its an excellent article, and will probably be a first exposure to the world of refreshable Braille for most of the BBC's readership. Here's hoping it raises the profile of the issue.

With reference to this article I'd like to address the technology behind Canute in some more detail, and explain our apparent cageyness.

Canute drives a matrix of pins with two kinds of actuators; stepper motors and solenoids. The steppers address lines, while the solenoids address columns. Actuating different combinations of steppers and solenoids results in a different pattern of up and down states in the pin matrix. Between the actuators and the pins is a Heath Robinson combination of components of our own design.

It has always been our intention to Open Source as much as we can of our work upon completion of a final prototype. However this is complicated by the bewildering state of intellectual property law around the world. We want to make sure that the design is truly Open Source with a licence that guarantees that improvements made to the design are made available to the community, rather than squirrelled away for commercial gain. To do that requires some degree of IP protection that we have been unable to afford for the Canute so far.

P.S. Its interesting to note that, according to Mr Cassidy's article, the Anagraph project received almost exactly 100 times the funding that the Canute project has had to-date.

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