Inspiration: “Sorry, I’m busy. Can you go Google it?”

Ignoring the blatant Intel advertising (yay “public” television/radio), this is a great story- kid asks his parents how blind people read, they blow him off, and he ends up building a braille printer out of Legos.

Maybe I’m just a lifelong geek, but I love the idea of prototyping with Legos. For those who are would like to build their, the plans for the Braigo printer are on Make’s site. While I get the point that the Lego prototype is not usable by the blind, I’m personally less thrilled with the solution of turning this into a significantly expensive product than I am charmed with the cheap simplicity of the original creation.
I’m currently reading The Peripheral by William Gibson which, among many other things, includes the idea of micro-fabs running sophisticated 3d printers, capable of “printing” electronics like phones.  I immediately connected that concept to this project. As cool as Lego prototyping is, imagine what 3d printer based micro-fabs could do for accessibility as specialized types of devices can be assembled from printed pieces at local businesses or in the home (specialized products for the blind currently tend to be wildly expensive because of the limited market). I wonder, as 3d printers improve and can use different materials, if they could be used to assemble circuit boards. If so, then Gibson’s vision in the book might prove to be as close to real as his vision of the internet in Neuromancer.

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