Aman Srivastava and and Sanskriti Dawle, undergraduate students from BITS Pilani KK Birla Goa Campus have always wanted to impact the lives of people in a big way. They developed Project Mudra. Mudra is a Braille dicta-teacher, which essentially tackles the problem of Braille literacy among the visually impaired. It is unique in its integration of speech recognition into tactile educational aids.
“Our motivation for this project has been the desire to go beyond ‘just-for-fun’ hacks,to make something with real-world application.”, says Aman to IndianWeb2. Mudra is based on a raspberry pi and programmed in python. It achieves its speech recognition capabilities by using Google’s speech API. The complete Braille hardware (Mudra currently has only one tactile Braille cell) was made completely by Aman and Sanskriti.
The device is actually the combinatin of – Raspberry Pi (a credit-card-sized single-board computer) + Python (a programming language) + braille hardware.
The startup is still looking for funds to start the pilot testing phase and release the product in open market for needy users. When launched, the device would cost around Rs.10,000.
How it Works?
Mudra has three modes: browse mode, auto mode and exam mode.
1) Browse mode: It works by converting speech input to tactile Braille output. The user is prompted for speech input
2) Auto mode: It takes the user through all alphabets via sequential audio-tactile output. Preloaded voice notes of alphabets are stored on the device. Simultaneously, voice notes are played and tactile output is generated.
3) Exam mode: A character is randomly generated on the tactile surface. The user is prompted to correctly guess the letter via speech input. Their answer is checked for correctness and if wrong, the device outputs the correct answer via audio.
The device being low cost is a big step in ensuring affordability. There are plenty of Braille based devices available in the market, but all of them assume the Braille literacy of the end user. So Mudra is important because Braille literacy rates are as low as 10% even in a developed country like the USA. “Learning Braille is tough (especially, developing tactile memory through repetition) and Project Mudra makes it significantly easier, intuitive and automated.”, says Sanskriti.
Mudra has been presented at Python Conference, Montreal 2014, TEDx, and has been acknowledged by the Raspberry Pi Foundation as a novel use of the credit card sized computer. “We are in talks with people for industrial design, subsequent testing and further collaboration. We plan to make Mudra reach as far as possible and touch as many lives as possible.”, says Aman.
You can also view their TED Talk below: