Download the full press release: http://bristolbraille.co.uk/articles/canute_mk6_press_release.zip
Bristol Braille Technology CIC, a not-for-profit company operating out of the Bristol Hackspace, has completed the first feature complete prototype of Canute. Canute will be the world's first multiline refreshable Braille ebook reader, which will cost less than a Braille typewriter and a fraction of the price of existing single line displays.
It is intended that Canute will help reverse the decline in Braille literacy by bringing digital Braille within financial reach of the average user for the first time.
::Canute, a stand-alone refreshable Braille ebook reader for £440, being rolled out to testers over June
On Monday the 18th of May Canute Mk6 was demonstrated to the Bristol Braillists blind advocacy group in the Pervasive Media Studio, who were able to choose between and read a dozen novels that had been preloaded onto the machine.
On Tuesday the 19th Canute Mk6 was demonstrated again to the Information Technologists company in Stationers' Hall. During the meeting BBT also demonstrated Canute's ability to double up as an embosser, which means one can emboss notes, shopping lists, recipes or letters directly off Canute's surface.
On both occasions the feedback was very positive and the device was deemed ready to be tested by users in their own homes. Over June BBT will therefore be working with the Bristol and Reading Braillists groups to ensure Canute units are tested by dozens of blind users.
The Canute uses radically different internal mechanisms from the prohibitively expensive existing Braille displays, which allows it to have the unique format of 28 characters per line over 4 lines.
It uses off the shelf motors and plastic components from laser cutters. It runs off Open Sourced ebook software that can be freely changed so users can add their own functionality, adapt the user interface to their tastes.
There are already blind users and sighted engineers from around the world who have expressed an interest in adapting it to various different use cases and languages.
“It's something phenomenal. I'm already in love with this, and I'm not really a Braille person. I gave up Braille many years ago... but this would definitely intrigue me... I'm completely blown away by this.” --- Andre Louis, a blind musician and broadcaster, at Stationers' Hall, see Periscope broadcast: http://bristolbraille.co.uk/articles/andre_louis_periscope.mp4
“There are many wonderful ways digital technology can open the world up to those with visual impairments and this can be balanced by opportunities to master written culture, whether as readers or writers. We are proud to be supporting Canute, which is at the forefront of efforts to bring Braille, and therefore literacy for blind people, into the 21st century.” --- Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust
“I am delighted that the Innovation 4 Growth programme has enabled Bristol Braille to realise its research and development goals, and to evolve an innovative concept into a product that is ready for user testing.” --- Tracey John, University of the West of England Head of Business, Research and Professional Development