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A teen boy getting funding from Intel for low-cost braille printer

Braigo(the other name for a Braille printer design) v1.0 designed by 13-year old Shubham Banerjee in January 2014, as an entry in a 7th grade school science fair project was valued at be about 350 USD or 250 Euros. Later, he came up with Braigo v2.0 which promised to be a consumer version of a braille printer/embosser. In August 2014, a new company Braigo Labs Inc. was formed with an office in California. In September 2014, Shubham demonstrated ‘Braigo v2.0’ at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF 2014).

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Banerjee was 12  when he closed an early-stage funding round with Intel Capital, the company’s venture capital arm, last month for his prototype for a low-cost Braille printer. Since then, the San Jose, California middle-schooler has turned 13. A fundraising flyer about the blind has been the major source of inspiration for him to turn a high-tech version of Legos, the toy building blocks, into a device that could print in Braille. He worked on incorporating an Intel Edison chip, a processor aimed at hobbyists, into the printer. In September, Intel invited him to a conference in India to highlight uses for Edison. It was at this moment where Shubham was surprised to hear from Intel executive Mike Bell, who announced from the conference stage that the giant chipmaker would invest in his company, Braigo Labs. “I turned back to my dad, and said, ‘What did he just say?’” Banerjee recalled. “I was all over the place.”

It is the second  investment made by Intel to the Banerjee family, the first being “Kno” a start-up(where his dad Neil works) bought by Intel.While many young entrepreneurs who win venture-capital cash end up ditching their education to focus on their businesses full time, Banerjee says he won’t take that path.’It’s an after-school thing,’ he says.As announced in his interviews, Banerjee has decided to give away the design and software for free and  has uploaded building instruction on his Youtube with an aim to help the visually impaired individuals.

Banerjee  is in the process of making first-ever Braille smartphone and tactile watch for blind showing time with ball bearings. His work at such a young age is just the start of what should be a promising career in science and engineering.

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