Smart Cells are designed for both sighted and visually impaired children, and are aimed at aiding early interaction and inclusion between sighted and non-sighted children by building familiarity with the braille alphabet at an early age. After meeting with members of the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, one of the biggest challenges mentioned for non-sighted children was creating connections and friendships with sighted children. Smart Cells hope to bridge that disconnect by providing a platform of engagement utilizing universal design. For children learning empathy, place, and body in the world, this device would aid early interaction and inclusion.
Smart Cells feature six buttons that make up a braille cell - they are snapped together via magnets to have their individual letters read as words. The user enters combinations of buttons to create different braille letters and words that speakers will then read back to the user. When looking at traditional models of teaching braille, placing tennis balls in muffin tins are taught to be the first conceptualization of the braille cell. The adult or instructor would then provide feedback to bridge the gaps between sound, letter, word, and object. Smart Cells hope to expand on this concept by offering more independence to this learning experience, and to encourage collaboration between peers.
Smart Cells are still in progress, but aim to be open-source - all 3D models, circuit diagrams, code and instructions will be published online.