The latest idea to receive the Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award, is a Braille labeller by Silicon Valley-based innovation laboratory 6dot. Cool Idea! Award is a program offered by Proto Labs that gives product designers the opportunity to bring innovative products to life. In 2012, the program’s reach was expanded to include the European Union, and is now offering up to $250,000 of prototyping and low-volume production services.

The lightweight labeller aims to solve a persistent challenge among the 37 million people around the world without sight: identifying everyday objects. Objects such as cans of food and medicine containers can feel indistinguishable from each other. The labeller, however, uses an embossing mechanism to create adhesive labels with Braille characters.

6dot hopes that beyond helping people without sight navigate everyday environments, the device will also have an impact on improving the Braille literacy rate. Braille literacy rates are currently at an all-time low of around 20%.

“We were inspired by the potential and simplicity of 6dot’s product,” said Proto Labs founder and CTO Larry Lukis. “Not only does it break down access barriers to Braille education, but it also helps millions of people without sight get around with greater ease and convenience. We were eager to offer our injection-moulding services to a cool product idea with an even cooler vision behind it.”

 6dot CEO and founder, Karina Pikart, said: “We believe in using engineering and design to stamp out limitations that don’t need to be there in the first place. Our labeller, through the help of the Cool Idea! program, has the potential to help millions of people learn Braille sooner and navigate everyday life more easily.”