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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learn how the FSDB is transforming the teaching and learning of braille through the SMART™ Brailler. Teachers, students, and a parent share their feedback.
Product Development Technologies (PDT) is a global, full-service product design and development firm with 120 employees worldwide. Team members have expertise in a wide range of product development disciplines, including strategy, scouting, design research, industrial design, user experience development, mechanical and electrical engineering, software development, and sourcing. PDT’s award winning product designs have been recognized with more than 70 awards from authorities such as BusinessWeek, Fast Company, the Industrial Designers Society of America and The Consumer Electronics Association.