The Future of Braille is Open Sourced

Fig: Close up photo of the Canute Mk8 being assembled.

Fig: Close up photo of the Canute Mk8 being assembled.

We are committed to progressively Open Sourcing our software and electronics components. Since the 20th of May, 2015, Canute prototype software has been Open Sourced. Below are a few repositories that we hope will help other developers advance Braille and help users adapt the Canute to their own needs.

Even those aspects of the project which we have not yet released the sources for have been developed in close co-operation with members of the Braillists community group. We hold regular public meetings explaining electro-mechanical progress with the local Braillists groups, membership of which is open to everyone with an interest in Braille.

Canute User Interface and Emulator

The Canute user interface is built in Python and can be modified and ‘flashed’ (overwriting the default software with a new upload) to a Canute to improve or entirely change its functionality.

This also acts as an emulator, so those who have not got a Canute can still develop for the user interface (or create their own based on it) using the accessible QT based emulator.

Canute Dev Kit

For developers wanting to develop drivers for the Canute to run on various operating systems, the Canute Dev Kit is a simple piece of hardware which simulates the Canute’s buttons and display (the latter via a serial link back into the PC). We can provide physical Dev Kits by arrangement if you contact us.

Building the Canute Mechanisms

At the moment the Canute design is in constant flux. Over the next year we will be progessively Open Sourcing previous stable designs and linking to them here.

“Using a Computer to Read Braille”

In 2014 we built a rig to ‘sight read’ Braille automatically, using a Canon camera, a Raspberry Pi and an intricate series of patterns. The rig is no longer actively used for Canute testing as the latest Canute prototypes are more complex to sight read from.

“Why would you want a computer to read Braille? I’m working on a Braille ebook reader and I need to ensure its reliability over many refreshes. To start with I only need to verify the position of 12 pins (2 characters of 6 pins), but as the project progresses I’ll need to read multiple lines of 40 characters.”

Using a Computer to Read Braille, Matt Venn, 2014