Gooddot came out of my astonishment of how poor the “special education” for blinds is in China and I developed a device for blind people to learn Braille by themselves. The project is based on two concepts I proposed after user research: no need for more than one blocks on an electric reader, and make the product colorful. This project brought to me way more than I expected, I firstly got contact with the group of people that I’ve barely paid attention to, and amazed by their persistent and will to learn. I studied language education process and learned Arduino when developing the prototype.
Among hundreds of “innovative products designed for blind people,” few of them designed for the initial Braille learning process, however, in China, only 20 Braille schools are responsible for the education of over 700,000 blind people. After a brief linguistic and language education research, I designed a cheap and accessible device that could help them learn Braille by themselves easily. And developed a functional prototype based on Arduino platform.
The great shortage of present Braille education is not only because of the absence of enough qualified teachers, moreover, the bulky and expensive books, the high damaging-rating of books, and cumbersome ways of writing all cause Braille to become a language that is hard to learn.
Braille readers cost thousands of dollars, heavy and hard to carry around. The reason is the complex mechanical structures behind a line of Braille blocks. However, according to the research, most blinds are trained to use only one finger, usually index finger, to read one “block” of Braille a time, unlike people read with eyes usually scan and sight over through the text, thus the rest of the space is kind of a waste.
So, why not just keep one block? Users just need to put one finger tip on the touch pad and the iron balls, controlled by magnets, will move up and down continuously to form lines of Braille.
Products for blinds should be designed especially, not specially. Almost all products in the market are black, silver and white, which makes it harder for blinds to be into the majority’s life. I colored the economist parts (rubber surface) and made it as colorful as it should have been. This idea is approved a lot during the user research.
After the product design process, I tried to make a working prototype based on Arduino, however, the elements (especially the magnets) are too large to put inside the Gooddot case, so I redesigned the case, based on the same interaction basis and function, and named it Mark I. The code was finished on June, 2018 and now avaliable on Github.