PDT an Astronics Company: Product Design and Development Firm in Chicago, IL
Child using Perkins SMART Brailler

The Perkins SMART Brailler enables the capture of braille key strokes and translates that input into embossed braille, dynamic audible speech output, visual braille and text on the screen, and files that can be saved/printed. In-home user testing allowed the team to observe that adding audio and visual feedback expanded the learning experience to parents and siblings creating a powerful self-learning and sharing environment.

Perkins SMART Brailler

Child testing font sizes on brailler prototype

Testing font sizes on low-fi prototypes allowed us to pinpoint a key audience for this device: those who are losing their vision, but using it as a learning tool for as long as they can. Testing included different print typefaces and different sizes of simulated braille.


Sketches of SMART Brailler

The SMART Brailler brings the most widely-used mechanical braille writer, the Perkins Brailler, into the modern age helping bridge the learning gap between low and high-tech products while helping users learn and become proficient in braille. Creating a usable physical device with responsive analog controls that delivers lush, discernible feedback for tactile interactions was the number one goal of the team.

Bridging the Gap

PDT designers using trend boards

The SMART Brailler is a step-change improvement of current methods; the added output of the brailler helps facilitate play, trial-and-error experimentation, and independent learning for everyone – children or adults who are blind, teachers, and parents. Color and material studies, systems design, and drawing inspiration from other markets all converged to create a distinctive, usable, and competitive product.

 A Competitive Product

Perkins SMART Brailler user interface design

The new Perkins SMART Brailler™ is a high-technology Microsoft CE based braille learning device. The smarts in the device build on an existing mechanical system with its own logic. This allows the SMART Brailler to train users so they can be familiar with any similar braille device.

High Technology

Perkins SMART Brailler prototype

Specifying and prototyping various components and assembly methods allowed us to deliver cost-effective yet desirable features to the broadest user base that could be assembled and serviced by Perkins and its vendors.

Assembly Methods

Perkins SMART Brailler packaging design

PDT designed the full unboxing experience for the product: a sturdy and reusable box, combination print and braille instructions, both leading to an audio tour after the device is powered on for the first time.

Unboxing Experience

Perkins SMART Brailler

Until now, using high-tech braille products required braille proficiency. The SMART Brailler gets even new learners connected instantly to braille, opening a more direct route to literacy. It delivers form and function to a user base that often has to choose one or the other.

Delivering Form & Function

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind Facilitates Braille Learning Using the Perkins SMART Brailler


Learn how the FSDB is transforming the teaching and learning of braille through the SMART™ Brailler. Teachers, students, and a parent share their feedback.

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