Gooddot came out of my astonishment of how poor the special education resources for blinds was. I developed a device for blind people to learn Braille by themselves. The project is based on two insights that I proposed after user research: no need for more than one blocks on an electric reader, and make the product colorful.
Among hundreds of “innovative products designed for blind people,” few were designed for the initial Braille learning process. 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 current Braille education resources is not only because of the absence of qualified teachers, but also the bulky and expensive books, the high damaging rate of them, and tedious ways of writing all caused 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 reading with eyes (and designing those reader products) usually scan and sight over through the text, thus the rest of the space is 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 designed for the blinds now in the market are of only black, gray and white. When we design for the majority, we just need to take their personal preferences into account. However, when we design for the minority, we should also make sure that we do not create a even bigger gap between the crowds because of our product. I colored several parts (e.g. the rubber surface, which take least money to color) and made the product as colorful as it should have been. This idea was approved a lot during the user research.
Learning a language is a process, and Braille is no exception. I designed the whole process for language acquisition - from learning the basic, to getting tested, and finally using it.
After the product design process, I tried to make a working prototype based on Arduino. I redesigned the case, based on the same interaction basis and function.