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Introducing the Canute Console Premium

Would you like to work on a Braille display that shows a whole page at a time rather than a line at a time?

Would you like to use a high contrast 13″ monitor synced to a 360 cell Braille display to collaborate with blind and sighted colleagues, so both tactile and visual readers have exactly the same information, layout and spacing?

Would you like to explore city maps, create diagrams, play classic videogames, watch sports matches and many other spacial applications across nine lines — that’s 360 cells — of spacial Braille?

Would you like to use code snippets to whip up your own applications, or work with the manufacturer to have a custom application developed for you?

If so we are pleased to introduce you to the newest edition to our product range, the Canute Console Premium.

Photo of the Canute Console on a desk, with white keyboard extending out from under the black Braille display and 13in visual monitor above the display.

The best way to read and edit documents in Braille

Download and edit documents, Braille files and tables from the web, company shared drives or USB stick and edit them on the Canute Console.

Type on a Qwerty keyboard which pulls out on a tray under the display and tucks away when you want to read without your wrists pressing keys. A luxurious 360 cells of Braille that maintains print white-space and centring and lets you read multiple columns of text or numbers. You can even edit two different documents at the same time, next to each other, on the same Braille display and still have 160 cells per document.

With the Canute Console as your workstation you can write better, review better, and you can collaborate better…

Photo of a blind user and a sighted user working together on the Canute Console, with the sighted person gesturing at the visual display and the blind user reading the same data on the Braille display.

Collaboration between equals, blind or sighted

Would your organisation benefit from blind people knowing with confidence what something looks like visually? Or from sighted people being able to structure documents in Braille or tactile graphics without knowing the first thing about Braille?

The Canute Console is the first computer to feature parity of display for touch readers and visual readers. The visual monitor and the Braille display update to show the same information with the same layouts. A blind owner can better check their sighted employee’s work, a sighted colleague can develop a tactile document for their blind colleague, or two totally blind students can develop a spacial, visual application without sighted assistance.

With a Braille display that mirrors the visuals, and visuals mirroring the Braille, it unleashes new creativity in the field of tactile applications…

Photo of a tactile graphic of a football match being replayed under a Braille reader's hands as a visual replay of the same match plays out on the visual monitor.

Map, watch, play, explore, create, program, then publish

The Canute Console has a unique ability to push the boundaries of what can be done with Braille and tactile graphics. Using Braille characters as symbols you can and we have created whole tactile worlds and experiences that were previously inaccessible by touch.

Console owners can create their own applications without prior experience by using our system of simple code snippets. But you don’t have to because it comes bundled with programs including: a top down city explorer that generates 5 yards per cell scale maps of any city, match replay for broadcast football games with a blow by blow account of the ball moved across the pitch, the classic arcade game Snake, free-hand tactile image and ASCII art drawing… and the developers always working on more!

With the Canute Console Premium you get development time from Bristol Braille to help you create your own application, or prototype one for you and share it others. To date these collaborations have included graphing, mapping the constellations, drawing early Germanic runes, midi programming, flow diagrams, original videogames and many computer science projects.

The Console pairs the power of the Linux terminal, the BRLTTY screenreader and the not-for-profit ethos of Bristol Braille, with the ambitions of touch readers, to build a new future for Braille and tactile graphics…

Photo of a Braille reader using the Canute Console editing code using the 9 line Braille display whilst the same nine lines are also on the visual display.

The Canute Console Premium is available now

Reserve your Canute Console on our web shop to read the whole page, feel what others are seeing and open up new professional and personal opportunities.

The Canute Console Premium is £4,995 from our web shop or one of our distributors, the same as buying direct from the manufacturer. That comes with a Canute 360 Braille display which can be detached and used as a stand-alone ebook reader, an extended warranty, an aluminium flight case and a day’s custom development time from Bristol Braille.

Do you already own a Canute 360? You can buy the Console Premium without the display for £2,795.

The Canute Console is built to your order so we encourage you to contact with us soon to discuss if this is the correct product for you.

More information about the Canute Console

Upgrade your Canute 360 to a Canute Console Premium

We have had an exciting start to 2024 so far, fielding a lot of interesting orders for the Canute Consoles. Its exciting to see the eclectic range of uses people are putting them to!

Therefore we are doubly pleased to be opening our second limited run, this time for upgrading existing Canute 360 owners to the Console Premium. This includes the Console hardware into which your Canute display slots, an aluminium flight case, extended two year warranty that also covers your existing Canute 360 (which becomes part of the Canute Console once upgraded) and either a day of set up or a day of developing a custom application for you.

Why upgrade?

For starters, upgrading to the Console Upgrade Premium extends the warranty of your existing Canute 360 by two years, even if it is already out of warranty.

We've been working hard on the Console and are pleased to announce that the Console is now equally useful for non-technical users as the Canute 360 is. Upgrading means you keep all the reader functionality of the 360, but can switch into Console Mode, which runs in the Linux command line and can do a huge number of things involving diagrams, viewing maps, editing and writing documents, transcription and conversion to and from Braille, and is the world's first and only tactile videogaming platform.

Want to read in comfort as you currently do, but with the addition of a 13" high contrast monitor for sharing that with visual readers, and a Qwerty keyboard for doing searches? Use it in Reader Mode.

Want to get into development, writing, tactile drawing, exploring or playing? Switch the Console to Console Mode.

Orders of Console Upgrade Premium are now open!

Design decisions behind the Canute Console

The Canute Console’s Braille display can be switched between Literary Braille for a familiar environment and Computer Braille, for letter for letter identical layout in Braille as a sighted person will see on the monitor. Thus the Console can be used by Braille readers to develop spacial — even graphical — applications for sighted audiences.

The Canute Console runs from the command line of an operating system called Raspbian, based on Debian Linux. Why Linux? The Canute Console can be switched to Console Mode to operate from the Linux command line, a powerful and universal working environment brilliantly suited to Braille. The Console can be used to log into and control servers or desktop computer running Linux, Windows, MacOS or embedded IoT devices. It can be used for cross developing apps for any operating system. SSH into your home Windows PC in refreshable Braille! Don’t know what SSH means but curious to find out? Try the Braillists Foundation’s Masterclasses on Linux.

The Canute Console integrates a Raspberry Pi 400 computer. Why Raspberry Pi? The Pi has fast become the world’s most commonly used and supported computer for educational, embedded and IoT development. Its a great choice for students and developers and — as the Console is also designed to be used as a terminal for controlling remote servers — the user is not restricted to ARM7 for more intensive applications.

Canute Console specifications

  • Two part hardware: THe Braille display docks into the workstation, but can also be detatched and used on its own as a stand-alone ebook reader.
  • Canute 360 Braille display with 360 cells over nine lines, 40 cells per line
  • Desktop workstation (not battery operated): 15″ x 8″ x 2″, 8lb.
  • 13″ high contrast monitor
  • Stereo speakers
  • Runs on Raspian (Debian based), including the BRLTTY screen reader and many custom tools developed by BBT to create and visualise data
  • Raspberry Pi 400 computer, features a quad-core 1.5GHz 64-bit ARM7 processor, 4GB of RAM, WiFi and Bluetooth networking, as well as a 40-pin GPIO header and 3x USB-A ports
  • Slide-out keyboard
  • Custom manufactured case
  • Ergonomically designed for Braille readers

Applications for the Canute Console

Here are a number of applications we at BBT, with our community, have either tested, modified or developed to use on the Canute Console.

Some of these are ready and come with the Canute Console on purchase, some are experimental and we can load them onto a customers machine on request.

All of these make maximum use of all 360 cells; ever cell of each 40 character line as been eked out to create new and exciting applications in Braille. Fundamentally though, the Console is about using nine-line refreshable Braille to crack open the world of spacial app development to blind people. The following are some example applications.

  • Micro, text editor for programming and word processing. Also available, all the usual Linux text editors, vi, nano, emacs.
  • Cities Through Braille, top down city exploration map game, where the player can explore real cities by down loading their data off the internet.
  • Association Football, where you choose from any country or club league or cup game of (soccer) football and watch it replay across a tactile football pitch in real time, with highlights, rewind, fast forward, and Braille commentary for every single play. Feel every movement of the ball, every yard moved, every shot blocked.
  • Snake. That’s right, the old Nokia game, re-imagined as a tactile experience, including a pre- and early-Braille learning levels system.
  • Dynamic Braille Sheets, taking spreadsheets (Excel compatible) and rendering them to the Braille display, including multiple columns and rows, zooming in and out.
  • Flow, a visualiser for creating and presenting flow diagrams. It works just as well for the Braille user creating them as for their sighted colleagues being shown the graphical version (with exactly the same layout, of course!)
  • Dungeon Explorer, very much does what it says on the tin. Not only have we built our own, but you, the user, can modify almost any ascii-based rogue-like, or indeed any other ascii-based game, to run on their Console.
  • Maths Pretty Print, for viewing LaTex maths equations as spacial multiline formula, as they were meant to be seen.
  • SVG out, a simple test showing how easy it is to use the Console to turn supposedly visual media, such as Scalable Vector Graphics, into a tactile version of the same.
  • Free Draw, for drawing diagrams free-hand in Braille ascii. We use it for drawing floor plans, which can be done in a couple of minutes.
  • Present, a demonstration of how easy it is with a multiline display to present the same spacial info to both a blind and sighted audience on the Console using just common Linux tools. In this case, Pandoc and LibreOffice to make presentations that show the same data and layout on a Powerpoint compatible slide show as on the Braille display.
  • All those command line applications that rely on more than one line to really make sense, or output logs over more than one line? Yes, they work much, much better when you can see them over a live, updating Braille page, trust us!

Whatever we do we make the sources viewable to the Console user (in refreshable Braille, of course), to help people learn from them, or adjust them to hack them for their own purposes.

See The Canute Console In Action

Watch our videos on Youtube where we show the Console doing accounts, playing Snake, watching back football matches, exploring maps and writing Python programs. If you have something you would like to see that isn’t there get in contact with us and we’ll make a video of it for you.

Games development

Until now a blind developer could use text-to-speech or view single lines of Braille. The Console adds the second dimension: diagrams, tables, maps, functions. With it blind developers can create spacial games for sighted people.

We’re looking for games studios to partner with us in sponsoring blind developers with Canute Consoles to complete a game-jam and publish their games on Itch. We’d love to meet up with games studios interested in partnering with us. If that’s you, please contact us.

Trials and launch of the Canute Console

We have been trialling the prototypes of the Console since November 2022 have also been engaging in trials and touring the machine around the UK, USA, Germany and Ireland to give Braille readers a chance to use it and tell us what they want the Console to be able to do.

We launched and delivered on the first pre-order of the Console in the Summer of 2023. We launched the Canute Console Premium in the Summer of 2024.

Our ethos has always been to let the community lead us and their feedback is invaluable. We are always looking for partner organisations interested in running trials of the Console in their own field, be in engineering, IT, mathematics or something really left field.

Buy the Canute Console now