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Tipo : Braille Smartphone Keypad

A keyboard accessory for a smartphone for training, and typing in braille

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After working with a user group of visually impaired on earlier version's of braille keyboards, it was highlighted that there is no comprehensive way of typing into a smartphone. Current software solutions are too slow, do not give good tactile feedback or just are a pain to type with. Even though there are many soft keyboards available, we couldn't find someone in our study group who uses any of the soft keyboards.

In our study conducted, out of 10 people, 8 use "Feature Phones", and the rest had smartphones but would take the help of a colleague or family member to type. It was the tactile buttons and not the cost that caused them to use feature phones.

Thus it was concluded that it is necessary to have a tactile keyboard in order for more visually impaired to use a smartphone.

The other challenge is faced by those who have recently lost their sight, and do not know how to use braille. A fast and efficient way in which this group of people can learn br

The two primary goals of this project are:

1) Create a tactile interface in a small form factor that can be used in conjunction with a smartphone.

2)A Smartphone based Braille trainer.

The intention is to create a better interface for a smartphone for the visually challenged.

The secondary goals are:

1) Opensource Electronics

2) Cost effective BOM

3)3D Printintable design

ElectronicsV1.rar

All electroncis and PCB source files for version 1

RAR Archive - 337.01 kB - 10/15/2017 at 17:32

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Firmware.rar

Arduino Firmware for Tipo

RAR Archive - 24.27 kB - 10/15/2017 at 17:04

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enclosureTop.stl

Top Enclosure STL file. Print 1 time.

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 101.74 kB - 10/11/2017 at 16:40

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button.stl

Button STL file. Print 6 times

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 45.88 kB - 10/11/2017 at 16:40

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enclosureBottom.stl

Bottom Enclosure STL file. Print 1 time

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 84.85 kB - 10/11/2017 at 16:40

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View all 7 files

View all 6 components

  • Low volume batch for user testing / Off to Hackaday SuperCon !

    Vijay11/08/2017 at 10:01 0 comments

    @Prashant Sharma is working on building 25 keypads for lab testing with a user group from UNESCO and Technology For The People .

    They have a very detailed process and documentation procedure when it comes to projects for the disabled and are putting a team of volunteers together to help us with it.  With this, they say getting stakeholders from various NGO's and Government will be easier since the value proposition is well documented, as well as will give us detailed feedback to focus future development, and not chase every feature request we have been getting. 

    The PCB designs are slightly updated, for making assembly easier with all components on one side, and button pads on the other ( as opposed to everything being on one side). I Will be updating the source files once the boards are assembled and tested. 

    I am flying to Pasadena day-after to attend  the Hackaday Superconferance on 10th, 11th and 12th. Looking forward to meeting amazing people and hope we get somewhere in the Hackaday prize !

    See you there!

  • An eye-opening experience!

    Vijay10/30/2017 at 11:11 2 comments

    Because of the national coverage that Tipo has gotten, Many visually impaired have been getting in touch with me, and I wanted to write a log sharing some of the latest feedback:


    1) The Blind "Baba" :

    in India, a baba is a religious godman . One of the followers of a bind baba got in touch saying that, the baba struggles to update his social media, and needs help to do it every time. He uses a feature phone for convenience but wants to be self sufficient by using a smartphone. 

    The tactile buttons were a breeze to use, and made him really happy. The problem is that he wanted to use Tipo in the regional language of Kannada.

    Adding multi language support will be pushed up the priority list of to do tasks. 

    2) The Blind lawyer:

    I have never seen someone so happy and excited in my life. It bought a tear to my eye. He expressed how important such a device can be for the visually impaired who want to to move up in  their career by being self sufficient, and also to learn and be proficient in braille . He was happy to know that where are plans to code Tipo for contracted braille, as he is pretty advanced in braille. 

    He expressed the need for some sort of navigational buttons to have move the cursor along sentences and paragraphs. 

    He will be putting me in touch with the educated/working strata of the visually impaired, to get more people involved in testing. 

    One another interesting feedback he gave, was that, we should charge a decent price for this device, as it is useful to the visually impaired, and needs to be respected. He gave me examples of some other products that had been abused because they were being given out for free. 

  • We got featured in national news!

    Vijay10/23/2017 at 14:16 0 comments

    Tipo is getting lots of attention, and a great deal of institutions and people are going to get involved. Hopefully this makes tipo into a world class product that creates immense  value for those who need it. 

  • Next Steps

    Vijay10/20/2017 at 15:29 0 comments

    I've been getting amazing feedback about Tipo from all around the world! People seem to be really excited about this, and I underestimated its impact initially. Its is amazing to know that something like this isnt already in the market!

    Some of the things that came up in feedback:

    1) Faster typing by directly switching between characters, instead of leaving all buttons.

    Currently, one will need to leave all the buttons after pressing a button combination to register a character. Apparently, in modern braille typewriters, you can just go from one combination to another, without letting go of all the keys. This would effectively double the speed of typing. This was highlightened during some of the initial testing we did as well. 

    It might be a challenge to implement on the code, getting the timing of the button combination presses right, but is a great challenge and goal to work towards. If anyone has ideas, please pitch in!


    2) incorporating grade 2 and grade 3 braille for faster typing.

    There are a number of different versions of Braille:

    • Uncontracted or Grade 1, which consists of the 26 standard letters of the alphabet and punctuation. It is only used by people who are first starting to read Braille.
    • Contracted or Grade 2, which consists of the 26 standard letters of the alphabet, punctuation and contractions. The contractions are employed to save space because a Braille page cannot fit as much text as a standard printed page. Books, signs in public places, menus, and most other Braille materials are written in Contracted Braille.
    • Grade 3, which is used mainly in personal letters, diaries, and notes, and also in literature to a limited extent. It is a kind of shorthand, with entire words shortened to a few letters. There is no official standard for this version of Braille.

    The next step would be to at-least include grade-2 braille in the firmware. 

    Braille contractions and abbreviations

    3) Vibration motors under each button to help in Braille training 

    For someone who has gone blind, vs born blind, learning braille can he an effort. Tipo can function as a braille training assistant as well.  Using vibration motors under the individual buttons, individuals can learn braille as well. 

  • It Works!

    Vijay10/15/2017 at 17:30 0 comments

    Second prototype of the braille keyboard. My braille is a little rusty, but i'm sure someone experienced in braille can type twice as fast.

    By setting "Talk Back" to ON in the accessibility settings, you can get the phone to repeat what you type


  • Assembly Time!

    Vijay10/14/2017 at 12:39 0 comments

    Its time to put it all Together! I will posting a better "how-to" in the instructions section after the project is done. I will be just covering instructions on assembly here.

    Assembly:

    1) Silicone button pads

    The parts I ordered from Ali-express didn't arrive on time, so i had to resort to desperate measures. I broke open a calculator, and salvages its button pads.

    2) Cutting and alignment:

     I cut the silicone pads into small section to git on to the small form factor, and not come in between some of the passive electronics on the PCB.

    The buttons have projects on them that align with depressions on the silicone pads. In case you have a different SKU of silicone button pads, you might need to change the CAD files of the buttons I have uploaded for best results. 

    3)Closing Up

    The PCB should align along with the pads, thanks to my mastery in CAD ;P

    Close the other half of the clamp-shell.

  • 3D Pritning!

    Vijay10/14/2017 at 12:29 0 comments

    I should give myself a pat on the back for getting all the tolerances right on the first go itself. I had to do a few iteration to optimize the button clicking, but in the end, it came together well!

  • New Industrial Design

    Vijay10/11/2017 at 15:39 0 comments


    New design solves some of the problems with ergonomics we were having. 

    -The flaps on the side are used for supporting the keyboard + phone using the top of the palms while typing

    - Buttons towards the center for easier typing

    -rounded edges for comfort

    -Chamfer in random places, because I can. :p

    - I've chosen to keep the USB make exposed, instead of having a internal wire, so that the user can switch between OTG cables for Andrioid or iPhone

  • New Electronics + App!

    Vijay08/07/2017 at 15:16 0 comments

    Redesigned electronics to use Silicon pad's instead of the push buttons used before to have a soft yet tactile experience, and way lesser noise. 

    The position of the buttons have also been moves so as to grip the smartphone better. 

    We are expecting the PCB's to arrive in a few days time. after which we will populate it and start working on the casing that will be 3D printed. 

    We also started working on a phone app, for training braille for people who are not blind from childhood. thus this can function as a braille trainer as well. 

  • First user test of new prototype!

    Vijay05/21/2017 at 10:26 0 comments

    It was very gratifying to see someone use the keyboard for the first time. Praveen took to the interface instantly, requiring no learning curve since he had prior knowledge in braille. It put a smile on his face instantly since was able to type so much faster than he used to normally.

    The prototype is still rough around the edges, but looks like it is heading in the right direction! software improvements and an erganomic industrial design is whats up next!

View all 13 project logs

  • 1
    Licence

    This documentation describes Open Hardware and is licensed under the

    CERN OHL v. 1.2.

    You may redistribute and modify this documentation under the terms of the

    CERN OHL v.1.2. (http://ohwr.org/cernohl). This documentation is distributed

    WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTY, INCLUDING OF

    MERCHANTABILITY, SATISFACTORY QUALITY AND FITNESS FOR A

    PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Please see the CERN OHL v.1.2 for applicable

    conditions

  • 2
    Get Everything Together

    You will need:

    - Male to Female jumper cables

    - AVR programmer (  I used Pocket AVR programmer from sparkfun )

    - USB micro cable for the programmer

    -USB OTG cable

    -All 3D printed parts

    -M3 x 10 CSK screws

    -Silicone button pads

  • 3
    Upload Bootloader

    The brains of Tipo is basically the same AVR 32u4 chip used in the Arduino Leonardo. We use the arduino leonardo bootloader to make programming easier, via the USB type A directly. 


    Use the pocket AVR programmer to upload the Arduino Leonardo bootloader. This guide should help:

    https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/pocket-avr-programmer-hookup-guide

View all 7 instructions

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Discussions

Shree Kumar wrote 5 days ago point

Congrats on the prize! This is a really cool project.  

I am integrating this into my modular smartphone kit project at kiteboard dot io.

  Are you sure? yes | no

qquuiinn wrote 06/29/2017 at 22:32 point

xiaomi mi4c is the best :D

  Are you sure? yes | no

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