Regulatory Tests and Cost-effective Redesign for a Braille Based Learning Device

Assistive technologies are important to build an inclusive world, assistive technology is a term for assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities or the elderly population.

A highly dedicated start-up team had worked on a braille learning device which had AI capabilities. It enabled a visually impaired person to learn reading and braille typing without the need for continuous monitoring by a teacher. It is one of the very few low-cost devices that has the potential to change the teaching-learning method for the visually impaired in low-income settings and make education inclusive.

To disseminate the product to an enormous number of visually challenged, the start-up team undertook substantial investment for manufacturing. The product development involved the internal design team of the start-up to work closely with a few different firms for design of electronics, power supply subsystems and mechanical components. Injection mould tooling was also done for volume manufacturing. Any product designer would know that these developments are highly costly. Design Alpha was not involved in these stages of the development.

The manufactured products were due for approval after the EMI/EMC regulatory test. However, the product could not pass these tests. As the situation posed a major risk, Design Alpha was approached to look in the situation and solve the problem. After internal deliberations it was decided that no major changes would be undertaken as high investments were already made in the design and development. Design Alpha team undertook redesigning the internals, the electronics, re-layout of PCB (Printed Circuit Board), added ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) components. As the mechanical tool was already completed, constraints were there to do proper shielding for EMI compliance. The interconnecting cables were reconfigured and replaced with shielded cables.

The project involved using a low-cost but high impact redesigning process, while keeping the entire development time to a few weeks. The internal redesign ensured that ESD and EMI/EMC compliances are matched. The internal testing of Design Alpha ensured that the compliance approval will be received in the second attempt. Design Alpha helped in ensuring that the learning device can be manufactured, as the team did not focus on achieving the output, it was focused on the outcomes.

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