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Meet the Young Entrepreneur Who Created a Braille Printer out of LEGOs

shubham-banerjeeWe always get really excited here at Dream It Do It when we find a story about a young inventor building something that’s never been seen before. You may have already seen our story about the Omaha man building a warp drive in his garage, or the young innovator who designed a water bottle that can turn air into water.

And now we’ve found another story about a brilliant, young inventor that has taken a simple children’s toy and created something extraordinary!

When 13 year-old Shubham Banerjee first learned about Braille, he began researching it on the internet, only to discover that Braille printers cost about $2,000. So Banerjee decided to try and build a Braille printer of his own, using something he already had, Legos. And it was successful–Banerjee built a light and cheap braille printer, and all for a school science project!

“I just thought that price should not be there. I know that there is a simpler way to do this,” Shubham Banerjee told IBN Live, who demonstrated how his printer works at the kitchen table.”My end goal would probably be having most of the blind people … using my Braille printer,” said Shubham, who lives in the Silicon Valley suburb of Santa Clara, just minutes away from Intel headquarters.

After the “Braigo” – a name that combines Braille and Lego – won numerous awards and enthusiastic support from the blind community, Shubham started Braigo Labs last summer with an initial $35,000 investment from his dad.”We as parents started to get involved more, thinking that he’s on to something and this innovation process has to continue,” said his father, Niloy Banerjee, an engineer who works for Intel. It’s great to see that Shubham’s parents are so supportive of his invention!

Shubham used the money to build a more sophisticated version of his Lego-based printer using an off-the-shelf desktop printer and a newly released Intel computer chip. The new model, called the Braigo 2.0, can translate electronic text into Braille before printing. If you’re looking for other children’s toys to help spark their creativity, check out these great examples of STEM related toys.

And the best news is that Intel executives got wind of Shubham Banerjee’s groundbreaking invention and decided to lend him a hand. They were so impressed with Shubham’s printer that in November they invested in his startup. Intel officials believe he’s the youngest entrepreneur to receive venture capital, money invested in exchange for a financial stake in the company.

“He’s solving a real problem, and he wants to go off and disrupt an existing industry. And that’s really what it’s all about,” said Edward Ross, director of Inventor Platforms at Intel. Braigo Labs is already using the money to hire professional engineers and advisers to help design and build Braille printers based on Shubham’s ideas. The company aims to have a prototype ready for blind organizations to test this summer and have a Braigo printer on the market later this year.

“I love the fact that a young person is thinking about a community that is often not thought about,” said Lisamaria Martinez, who is visually impaired and community services director at the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind.

Shubham is still too young to be CEO of his own company, so his mother is taking over the job for him. “I’m really proud of Shubham. What he has thought, I think most adults should have thought about it,” says Malini Banerjee. “And coming out of my 13-year-old, I do feel very proud.”

We all should feel very proud for Shubham Banarjee and his invention. Not only is he helping a community of people that aren’t thought about often enough, he is using a simple kid’s toy like Lego’s to accomplish that goal. Congratulations, Shubham, you’ve done the world a great service!

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