CANUTE - New prototype for world’s first multiline Braille ebook reader

17th September 2014

Bristol Braille Technology, has successfully demonstrated a 4 line prototype of Canute: expected to be the world’s first multiline Braille ebook reader, which will cost less than a Braille typewriter and a fraction of the price of existing single line displays.

On Monday the 8th of September Bristol Braille Technology, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company run by volunteers, presented the Canute prototype to a group of a dozen Braillists in the Pervasive Media Studio, central Bristol. The group, who meet every other month from around the country to discuss advances in Braille technology, were overwhelmingly positive about Canute and its potential impact on Braille literacy.

The group discussed the advantages of Canute’s intended final format of 28 characters by 8 lines for a lower price (estimated to be £300–440) than a Perkins Brailler™ typewriter. It was agreed that such a device would be a great boon to schools and colleges, would encourage greater adoption of Braille, not least in developing countries, and would allow individuals the freedom to purchase their own devices without subsidy.

Canute is intended to be primarily a reading device, a Braille ebook reader, as opposed to an advanced editing tool. The Braillists therefore discussed how Canute could compliment rather than replace existing single line Braille displays as a secondary ‘screen’, especially in STEM subjects where the multiline context of tables and formulae are invaluable.

At the conclusion of the meeting Canute’s ability to double up as an embosser was successfully tested. This, it was agreed, meant schools and colleges that could only afford a single unit could use it to emboss material for the entire class, and that individuals could emboss quick notes, shopping lists, recipes or letters directly off Canute’s surface.

Matthew Horspool said: At the moment we have students working on Braille notetakers, and every time they tally charts they have to revert to a Perkins [typewriter], because its the only way you’re going to see more than one line at a time. Whereas we could say, ‘Look, you can use this Bristol Braille reader

James Bowden said: In the future it may be possible that there will be all kinds of applications for Canute: ebook readers, spreadsheets, tables … In some ways your imagination is the limit

Ed Rogers, Founder and Director of Bristol Braille Technology, said *Monday was the
fruit of almost two years’ work from the team, so it was great to see all their efforts finally validated*

We’re looking forward to developing *Canute further over the next year as we prepare for manufacture, and are now keener than ever to work with institutions and companies with an interest in furthering the cause of universal literacy*

For further information please contact Ed Rogers,