Some of us may have been playing with LEGOs when we were 12-years-old, but most of that revolved around making pyramids and accidentally leaving bricks in places bare feet fear to tread. Such isn’t the case with Shubham Banerjee, who is in seventh grade and, seeing a need, developed an inexpensive braille printer from LEGOs.
The printer was built using the EV3 Mindstorms kit released in 2013, which retails for $350 — a hefty sum for LEGOs, but a far cry from the $2,000+ braille printers commonly run. Noticing the price of braille printers, Banerjee sought to decrease the cost, which he ended up doing with the LEGO Mindstorms kit.
For now, Banerjee’s printer is in the prototype stage, but is capable of printing input manually expressed to the device. The prototype works using a standard roll of calculator printer paper and a robotic arm equipped with a push pin. After receiving input, the robotic arm uses the pin to punch holes into the paper.
In its current form, the printer takes between five and seven seconds to print out a letter, with the paper accommodating one letter per line. You can watch it in action in the video above. Banerjee will make his project and Mindstorms program open source, and hopes the printer could one day help those in developing nations where traditional printers aren’t easily accessible.