Whoever thinks that Lego is just a toy should think again. A teen from Liverpool used the building blocks to replicate Holocaust dioramas for a history project, while on this side of the pond, an eighth-grader in California fashioned the bricks into a new Braille-printing machine. Really.
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Shubham's machine had its origins from a Lego robotics kit, but evolved into a potentially revolutionary tool for the visually impaired: a Braille printer that would allow visually impaired to perform basic household tasks like printing out labels, letters and shopping lists.
The story goes that Shubham asked his folks how blind people read. And like most busy parents, they simply retorted: "Google it." After some research, Shubham was dismayed to discover that Braille printers, or embossers as they are called, cost upwards of $2,000. In other words, the printers are only affordable to a select few, and totally off limits to developing countries.
He thought: "I know that there is a simpler way to do this," and set about creating his own prototype that would cost around $350 and weigh much less than current models.
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Fast forward, and blessed with financial backing from his parents, Braigo Labs was created last summer. That prototype has evolved using parts from a desktop printer and an Intel computer chip. The company, which invested in the project, claims the boy is probably the youngest entrepreneur with whom they have worked.
"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 Intel director, Edward Ross.
Parents, perk up your ears. Shubham is proof that those far-fetched ideas may not be as far-fetched as they seem. Kids, after all, are the real innovators, the ones who really think beyond the box, often casting a fresh perspective on stale problems. It's our job to get them thinking about how they can apply that creativity in the real world. When you believe in a kid, there's no telling what might happen.