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About Canute Console

 

Canute Console – The Next Generation In Braille

Canute Console in situ, 360 display, keyboard extended, monitor up
Canute Console in situ, 360 display, keyboard extended, monitor up

Upgrade your Canute 360 to a Canute Console, pre-order now open!

We have now launched our second product, the Canute Console which expands the ability of the Canute and Braille itself. The Console is not only everything the Canute 360 e-book reader is, its also a Braille workstation for professionals and students doing programming or viewing and manipulating data.

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 pre-order: for the Console Upgrade Premium! This time the pre-order is specifically for existing Canute 360 customers who want to buy the hardware and software upgrade that converts their existing Canute into the more advanced Console model.

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 will now be 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 Smart 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 the Console in Reader Mode.

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

We are opening pre-orders for the Premium version of the Console Upgrade. This includes a flight case, extended two year warranty that also covers your existing Canute 360 (which becomes part of the Canute Console once upgraded), six hours of set up and support, and a Braille learning resources SD card.

The Console Upgrade Premium is £2,745 in total (discounted by £75). The pre order cost is a downpayment of half: £1,370. We can accept payment through card, Paypal, bank transaction or cheque. Shipments will begin in March so reserve your place by placing a pre-order.

If you are interested please contact us at enquiries@bristolbraille.org or call us on either +44 117 325 3022 or +1-617-936-7064.

The Console enable its user to read maps, play computer games, read complex tables, program in multiline refreshable Braille, create and view charts and spacial data visualisations previously inaccessible to Braille readers. We are incredibly excited about the potential of this machine to level the playing field for blind people across the globe.  

The Canute Console is aimed at professionals and students of computer science and requires either a degree of familiarity with the command line and Linux or a willingness to learn.

Pre-orders of Console Upgrade Premium are now open!

What is the Canute Console?

The Canute Console is everything the Canute 360 Braille e-reader is, but its also a Linux workstation with multiline Braille display. It is composed of a Canute 360 Braille display docked in a workstation that adds a pull-out Qwerty keyboard, a fold-up 13″ high contrast monitor, and runs off a Raspberry Pi 400.

Why the monitor? For co-working and co-playing between Braille readers and their sighted or low-vision colleagues. The monitor and the Braille display show exactly the same output from the terminal. The 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.

Why Linux? This Canute Console can be switched to Smart 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.

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 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

Trials and launch of the Canute Console

We launched and delivered on the first pre-order of the Console in 2023. 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.

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.

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 uses, but the Console will be what we make of it!

  • 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.
  • Word Search Generator, another one that does what it says on the tin.
  • 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? Yeah, 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.

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.

See The Canute Console In Action: Replaying a football match

https://youtu.be/KVeF9R-EgZ4

 

The first-ever instance of a live, refreshing tactile football pitch, replaying a match from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The match and highlights are automatically generated and can be applied to any real or fictional match, live or recorded. This is one of a series of experiments proving the case for developing Computer Science applications for multiline Braille on the Canute Console.

Interactive tactile map of Bristol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dN6RgS6dlo

This is a full page refreshable, interactive, tactile map of Bristol (works on any other city!) running on the Canute Console. This is a quick demo put together to demonstrate the potential of the Canute Console’s unique multiline refreshable Braille technology to open up whole new areas for blind and deafblind people.

The prototype Canute Console programming Snake in Python… in multiline refreshable Braille!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6gAEPpkycU

 

This is a quick demo of Canute+Dock opening and editing a Python program, in this case a program we created some months ago which is a very prototype demo of the old Nokia game Snake, intended to teach blind children graphical spacial awareness and positioning.

Since this video we have updated the game to include missions and Braille learning challenges.

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