Creating a better future
Thenar – portable and affordable Braille display
Two years ago I came across information regarding the literacy rate among blind people in developed countries, which is comparable to the Middle Ages – about 5%. The reason for such a low rate is the inaccessibility of electronic devices for displaying text in Braille.
I got interested in how to make a Braille display affordable for more visually impaired people.
The classic Braille display consists of a line of 14 to 80 electromechanical Braille character cells, which generate text on its surface. The user reads text by swiping the character line. The more cells in the display, the more it is convenient for reading, and the more expensive the device is.
I have come up with an idea to replace a series of Braille cells with only one cell and a jog-dialer for text navigation. In order to quickly test this hypothesis, I assembled a prototype, the enclosure of which was printed on a 3d printer, and the electronics were assembled from the most affordable electronic components, superglue and copper wire.
The first tester of the prototype was the coordinator of the local Inclusive Center, who teaches other blind people reading in Braille. She approved that this concept is viable, but needed improvements.
Our team has worked on the design of the device and revised its functionality for the last two years. And today we present Thenar – a brand new device that can make reading electronic texts/books in Braille affordable for most visually impaired people.
Aube – Braille alphabet trainer for visually impaired children
During the development of an e-book reader for the blind, we paid great attention to the ergonomics of the
During the development of an e-book reader for the blind, we paid great attention to the ergonomics of the device. We have achieved such a shape of the device so that it is suitable for both adults and children while maintaining comfort in the hands during prolonged reading. To do this, we held several meetings with children studying at a boarding school for the blind. We gave the dough to the children in their hands and asked them to make the simplest and most convenient shape for their hands. Most of the children sculpted a figure similar to a pyramid with rounded edges. This led to the idea of creating a Braille training simulator for children with visual impairments, which we called Aube.
In addition to the standard set of equipment for learning Braille, Aube through gamification helps children learn letters more quickly and distinguish them from each other. In addition, this device allows you to learn Braille in quiz mode. The same symbols are simultaneously displayed on the devices of each student, and they need to race to determine which symbol it is. In this mode, it really speeds up the memorization of characters and the ability to clearly distinguish them from each other.
Personal water dispenser
We need to drink water every day. However, we drink either too little or too much. There are many mobile apps for reminders, but you need to measure the volume of water yourself and it’s inconvenient. And, to be honest, who pays attention to these annoying notifications on the phone at all. To solve this simple but important problem, I have developed an individual dispenser that does everything by itself.
Introduction to 3D modeling and printing
In 2019, Astana hub, the international technopark of IT startups in Central Asia, provided me with a very good laboratory to work on my projects. In addition to the equipment, there was also a space for educational events. With friends from the Sheberkhana company, we decided to conduct master classes for everyone and with any background, absolutely free of charge. One of my masterclasses was devoted to the basics of 3d modeling and 3d printing. Among the participants were both students and people who decided to study a new field in order to make a pivot in their careers.
In general, it was a very interesting period. We made friends with many interesting people. I really hope that the courses have helped them in their future careers. One of my students later started his own startup for the production of custom laptop cases.
In the city of Nur-Sultan, there is a MakerSpace where everyone can use the equipment for woodworking, crafting, as well as 3D printers and CNC machines. All this is provided with the support of the US Embassy in Kazakhstan. In 2015, I also learned and studied 3d printing technology for the first time here. Since then, I have learned a lot and wanted to share my skills and knowledge with new students and schoolchildren. So I started conducting courses on prototyping new devices. As part of our courses, we studied 3d modeling, printing, programming of microcontrollers, soldering of electronic components, and, of course, the etching of printed circuit boards, which turned out to be the most favorite among schoolchildren.
Activities at-home in 2020
In 2020, the pandemic began, and it has made changes in all areas of our lives. Since all the offices and workshops were closed, I equipped a small laboratory at home so as not to stop working on my projects. I also continued to conduct online modeling workshops. In addition, I joined the international maker movement, and also printed faceshields for medical professionals fighting the pandemic.
TOM’s: Global Innovation Challenge
In 2021, we participated in the GLOBAL INNOVATION CHALLENGE competition, which was held by Tikkun Olam Makers, whose goal is to connect the global maker movement with people with disabilities in their local communities for an accelerated process of creating affordable, open-source, and accessible hardware solutions to solve their unmet needs. Our project won the Honorable Mention award and we were invited to the award ceremony and presentation of projects that took place in the US Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020. It was a truly unforgettable event! We made friends with other contestants, and also talked about our Thenar device – an electronic book for blind people at the international level. We are very grateful to the organizers of the contest for this opportunity to us makers, and a good cause for people in need.
You can reach me via
297 Yeskaliyev str., 16