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Indian-origin boy working with Microsoft to launch low-cost Braille printer ‘Braigo’ in November

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Shubham Banerjee, a 13-year-old Indian-origin boy, who had invented a low cost portable Braille printer using his Lego toys, is working with IT giant Microsoft to integrate his invention with Windows to make it easily accessible to the visually impaired.

Shubham is an eighth grade student of Santa Clara school in California. He has already started his own company Braigo Labs, which made him the youngest entrepreneur of the world.

His mother Malini is the president of the company and father Neil is Shubham’s mentor.

“I discovered that typical Braille printers cost about $2,000 (about Rs 126,000) or even more, and I felt that was unnecessarily expensive for someone already at a disadvantage,” Banerjee said.

“So, I put my brain to work, and the first thing that came to mind was to create an alternative using my favorite toy,” he added.

The new printer is cheap and consumer friendly, and is 75% lower in price than that of the existing ones.

He has also got an invitation from Microsoft to showcase his new printer Braigo 2.0.

“Our relationship with Microsoft will help Braigo achieve a seamless experience for a visually-impaired person who wants to use a computer at home or at the office to print documents for offline reading,” said Banerjee.

“Also, think about the banks, the government institutions or even the libraries where Windows-based computers are widely used. They will all benefit from having a Braigo to provide accessibility services to their visually impaired customers,” he added.

According to a report, the new product will be available in the market soon with a price tag of $500.

Next Story

California Wildfire of 2017 Caused By Homeowner Equipment: Agency

In the report released Thursday by the state, one witness reported seeing a transformer explode. Another reported seeing the fire approach a PG&E power pole.

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California
An aerial view of properties destroyed by the Tubbs Fire is seen in Santa Rosa, California, Oct. 11, 2017. VOA

In a long-awaited report, state investigators said Thursday that a 2017 wildfire that killed 22 people in Northern California wine country was caused by a private electrical system, not equipment belonging to embattled Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.

The state firefighting agency concluded that the blaze started next to a residence. It did not find any violations of state law.

“I eliminated all other causes for the Tubbs Fire, with the exception of an electrical caused fire originating from an unknown event affecting privately owned conductor or equipment,” CalFire Battalion Chief John Martinez wrote in his report.

Some details about the property, including its owner and address, were blacked out of the report. It said the Napa County property about 3 miles (5 kilometers) north of Calistoga was built in 1946 on about 10.5 acres (4.2 hectares) with a wine cellar, pool and several outbuildings.

Wildfire
A statue stands among the remains of a home destroyed by the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 10, 2017. VOA

PG&E said in a Jan. 2 court filing that it believed a handyman performing unlicensed electrical work started the wine country fire. In that filing, it identified the owner of the Napa County compound as Ann Zink. The utility said it provided electricity to Zink’s property by a line that connected to a service riser but that Zink had a private system to carry power to other buildings as well as equipment such as a water pump and water storage tank.

PG&E said it had no responsibility to maintain or inspect the private system.

Zink, 91, told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2017 that her house was unoccupied at the time of the fire and she was at her other home in Riverside County when the blaze began.

PG&E bankruptcy filing

The Tubbs Fire was one of more than 170 that torched the state in October 2017. It destroyed more than 5,600 structures over more than 57 square miles (148 sq. kilometers) in Sonoma and Napa counties.

PG&E previously said it plans to file for bankruptcy protection next week, citing billions of dollars in potential damages from lawsuits linking its equipment to other deadly blazes for which it has been determined to be at fault.

Fire, CLimate Change, California, fossil fuels
Firefighters battle a wildfire as it threatens to jump a street near Oroville, California. VOA

The company said in a statement that despite Thursday’s finding, PG&E “still faces extensive litigation, significant potential liabilities and a deteriorating financial situation.”

Gov. Gavin Newson said it’s up to PG&E to decide whether to move ahead with a planned bankruptcy given that more than half of its expected damages stemmed from the 2017 Tubbs Fire.

He said his goal is not to rescue PG&E but to make sure victims are made whole, that the state has “safe, reliable and affordable service” and that rate payers “are not paying the price of the neglect” that has been established in past wildfires.

Newsom also said he doubts the report will end litigation related to the wildfire.

Michael Kelly, an attorney for victims of the fire, said the findings wouldn’t have much effect on the lawsuits he has filed.

“We’re going to stick by our guns,” Kelly said, adding that there are still questions about why PG&E didn’t cut power to the area despite a high fire danger. He said there is also evidence that contradicts the findings of state fire investigators.

California, Fire prevention, wildfires
A firefighter sprays the smoldering remains of a vehicle on Interstate 5 as the Delta Fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, VOA

Reform, compensation

Trading of PG&E Corp. stock was halted twice after news about the cause of the fire prompted a surge of buy orders. Once trading resumed, the price rocketed up, closing up $5.96, or nearly 75 percent, at $13.35 a share.

A state senator said that just because a private electric line caused the wine country fire does not let the utility off the hook for the role of its equipment in other devastating fires in the state.

State Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, cited system-wide issues plaguing California’s largest utility.

Lawmakers are under pressure to find a solution that addresses utility reform and compensates wildfire victims.

Also Read: urance Claims From California’s Wildfire At $9 Billion

“This underscores the idea that we all have a role to play in wildfire prevention,” said Dodd a frequent critic of PG&E, who noted that the company has already been found at fault for more than a dozen other Northern California wildfires.

In the report released Thursday by the state, one witness reported seeing a transformer explode. Another reported seeing the fire approach a PG&E power pole.

One witness, Charlie Brown Jr. of Calistoga, said the electrical wiring leading from the property where investigators concluded the fire started had not been used in years. (VOA)