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Java Institute News   23 July, 2018
 
Mr. Tharaka Pathum Sankalpa, a lecturer and Master in Charge of the Young Scientist Association of the Ja..
Mr. Tharaka along with Mr. Prince began developing the PT Braille computer key
Since completing his higher education at the Java Institute, Mr. Tharaka has also been active in the fiel..
The system uses a customised braille keyboard that produces an output that converts the braille alphabet ..
       
 
Tharaka Pathum -Gold Medallist
Gold Medallist of Sahasak Nimavum Competition Organised by the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission - Mr. Tharaka Pathum Sankalpa

 

Mr. Tharaka Pathum Sankalpa, a lecturer and Master in Charge of the Young Scientist Association of the Java Institute Sri Lanka, has been awarded the gold medal prize in the Sahasak Nimavum competition organised by the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission, under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research, for the PT Braille Computer Key co-developed by Mr. Tharaka and his uncle, Mr. M.A. Prince Chandrasena, an experienced electrical specialist, and former lecturer at the School of Electronics (Kurunegala) Technical College. Mr. Prince had contributed his experience in the development of the hardware, while Mr. Tharaka has used his background in software engineering in order to develop the computer interface that acts as the ‘brain’ in this remarkable piece of technology.



 

 

Mr. Tharaka, 23 years of age at present and who hails from the city of Kurunegala, is also a past graduate of the Java Institute for Advanced Technology, having completed his undergraduate programme in the year 2014. Since completing his higher education at the Java Institute, Mr. Tharaka has also been active in the field of Software Engineering, and had decided to enter the field of academia by returning to the Java Institute as a lecturer and Master in Charge of the Young Scientist Association in order to share his experiences in both industrial and academic disciplines in order to help groom the next generation of Software Engineers.

 

Speaking more about his keen interest and passion for inventing, he cites drawing his inspiration from technology giants such as HTC and Apple. Similarly, technology leaders including Steve Jobs have inspired Mr. Tharaka to pursue his interest. Mr. Tharaka explained that he had drawn the inspiration for this invention through his interaction with a blind school teacher he met who was facing difficulties in using the braille system, as it was time consuming, and difficult to revert from braille to normal text, due to the lack of knowledge of the braille system by non-visually impaired individuals. He further learned that this was a common issue faced by the over 1 million blind or visually impaired individuals in Sri Lanka.

 

Armed with this knowledge, Mr. Tharaka along with Mr. Prince began developing the PT Braille computer key. Mr. Tharaka further explained that the braille system utilises six raised or embossed dots to spell out the alphabet. While this is easily readable to a blind individual, it is difficult to decipher for someone who is not blind or untrained in the braille system, and recounts his own experiences and challenges learning the braille system in order to design the software for the keyboard. The PT Braille Key was developed as a solution for bridging this need. The system uses a customised braille keyboard that produces an output that converts the braille alphabet into the regular English alphabet.

 

Mr. Tharaka states that his knowledge in software engineering greatly benefited him in helping him develop the software that made this possible. This output can be displayed on a screen while the character pressed is also indicated by audio, enabling the blind individual to know which key has been pressed. So far, this keyboard has already been developed for English and Sinhalese with plans to include a Tamil keyboard in the near future.