BrailleSense Polaris to BrailleSense 6 Upgrade

BrailleSense 6, 32-cell notetaker
So, your student has a BrailleSense Polaris? You aren’t alone! We have been working with schools across North America for years with the BrailleSense line of notetakers being the devices of choice for the classroom. It all started with the original BrailleSense notetaker. After that came the BrailleSense Classic, then the Plus, followed by the U2 line of notetakers, and then the BrailleSense Polaris.

Just like with all technology, new devices get released while older devices start losing their ability to keep up. It happens with phones, tablets, computers, and assistive technology as well. For us at HIMS, it happens to be that time where we release a new braille notetaker, the BrailleSense 6.

A quick aside, the BrailleSense 6 is the 6th iteration of the BrailleSense notetaker, thus the name.

Why we built a new braille notetaker anyway

There are many reasons why we built a new notetaker. A big reason was the operating system. The BrailleSense Polaris was built using Android Lollipop (version 5.1) which was a big step up from Windows CE that was used in the U2 and other notetakers. Companies that develop these operating systems put out new releases and often stop developing on the old versions and sometimes this forces assistive technology companies to develop new products that can use these newer operating systems.

Another reason that developing a new notetaker was a good idea was to improve the hardware, and thus the performance, of our notetaker. As mainstream hardware performance improves, such as increases in RAM and Memory, then applications and software developers add more to their programs because there are more resources available to pull from on the device. In turn, hardware developers increase performance again trying to keep up with software, and the race continues. This affects assistive technology in a big way as braille notetakers need to keep up with the resource intensive applications that schools use every day.

Of course, there are more reasons why a hardware update was a good idea. We’ve changed our USB ports from micro-USB to USB-C, made it a little smaller and lighter, changed the feel of the keyboard, and some other things that add up to significant and noticeable improvements.

So why would you want to upgrade?

So why would you want to upgrade from the Polaris to the BrailleSense 6? Well, the answer is “it depends”. If you are concerned about compatibility with Android applications like Google Classroom, Zoom, Google Meet, then having a newer OS is a good idea because that means your notetaker will still work for your student while older operating systems will have stopped working well or stopped working at all.

Another great reason to upgrade is the dramatic improvements in speed and performance. Since the launch of the BrailleSense 6, we have found that students are exploring the device more, trying new and exciting things, and experiencing less frustration when waiting for something to load. This is completely intuitive to anyone who has several Chrome tabs open at the same time.

The BrailleSense 6 also supports off-the-shelf peripherals like a keyboard, mouse, web cam, microphone, and so much more. This is particularly useful when providing support to a student; just use a mouse, keyboard, and monitor and it’s like running an Android computer. This is also very helpful for distance education when a video is requested over Zoom or whatever video conferencing solution you are using.
There are so many more reasons why you should upgrade, but one that might make the most sense to the organization you work for is the price for the upgrade plan. When we released the BrailleSense 6 in the US and Canada, we wanted to give Polaris users a way to get the BrailleSense 6 without breaking the bank. We made the decision to offer an upgrade plan that removes the braille cells from the BrailleSense Polaris and place them into a new BrailleSense 6. In short, it’s a brand-new device except for the braille cells which are quite expensive.

We priced this upgrade at $2295 and it comes with a 1-year warranty on everything but the braille cells from your Polaris. If you think about it, that’s like getting a new notetaker at a much lower price than you could otherwise expect.

Want to upgrade or learn more?

If it sounds like upgrading your BrailleSense Polaris to the BrailleSense 6 is a good idea, then let us know. We offer free virtual demonstrations where we can show you some of the performance improvements, new school-focused applications, and answer questions specific to you. You can request a virtual demonstration, or request a quote, by sending an email to