Sightronics – Expanding Vision

sightronics

About Sightronics

Sightronics is a Pakistani student based research initiation that aims to design interfaces/prototypes that could help increase independence and freedom for disabled people. Visit their facebook page here!


Sight has the greatest influence on our global perception. For the blind, the lack of sight is a major barrier in daily living: information access, mobility, finding their way, interaction with the environment and with other people. Although schools for blind people have been opened with better curricula and numerous pieces of assistive technology have been introduced, independence for them yet remains an issue. They depend on people for communication and navigation, and mainly on Braille books for education. Problems that arise include the availability of people to assist the blind, since very few know Braille language. This reduces their social circle immensely. Also Braille books require a lot of time to be printed, which further deprives them from current happenings and latest education. Blind people face important socioeconomic constraints such as lack of educational facilities, social insecurity and unemployment. Globally, an estimated 45 million people are totally blind and 400 million have visual impairment (WHO). This number is growing faster than the overall population.

Wearable devices offer an efficient means to mobile information access to the people with visual impairments and lead to improvements in the quality of life. Since these devices are worn on the body, therefore they minimize the use of hands while operating the device and give the user a hands-free experience. Our work on supportive systems focuses on threeareas: education, information transmission and mobility assistance, through vibro-tactile haptic feedback. Touch isused as the input for the receipt of non-audible physical information for blind, since it is more reliable than the auditory feedback and works for deaf-blind as well.

Problems related to education and information transmission concern reading and character recognition. The most successful reading tool is the Braille dot code. They permit character and graphic recognition by feeling a tactile version of them. Our products Brailliant deals with training and educating the blind students, whereas EasyCom deals with problems related to interpersonal communication and social interaction of the blind.

braillant-easycom

Sightronics has developed a seamless graphical GUI for Windows computers and a user-friendly Android smart-phone application (Braille-Chat). Finger-Braille glove interface, a wearable assistive device, is developed to communicate information to the blind. In this system, the fingers are regarded as Braille dots: 6 fingers, 3 at each hand, are enough to code any 6-dot Braille character. Using this codification, 6 small lightweight vibrating DC motors are attached to the fingers that stimulate the finger-tips when actuated. The entire interface is capable ofcommunicating wirelessly with external devices via Bluetooth/Zigbee. Apart from communicating textual information, the gloves are capable of measuring the flexion in the tendons and record any Braille messages to be conveyed by the user. These applications can be used to communicate text to the blind. Moreover, one can also speak the message into the designed interface. Our team commences rigorous experimentation to improve the recognition rate in conjunction with the number of characters transmitted per second.

hapcap

Problems related to mobility assistance are more challenging. They involve spatial information of the immediate environment, orientation and obstacle avoidance.The HapCap uses seven range-finding sensors around its periphery to scan the surroundings continuously and concurrently in real-time and inform the user about the potential obstacles and their immediacy, via the fore-mentioned vibro-tactile glove interface, that must be avoided. A GPS application is incorporated to facilitate blind with way-point navigation. The frequency of vibration varies as obstacle draws closer.

wristassist

The transducers on Ultra-cane emit separate beams of ultrasonic waves, indicating the proximity of the object, and whether it is low down and in front of the user, or whether it is at or above head height.  Feedback about these obstacles is provided through tactile stimulus. The RFID reader at the cane helps the user localize itself in a given environment.A wrist-mounted assistive device called the Wrist-Assist has sensors mounted above the knuckles that can pick up the distance of objects and then translate that distance to vibro-tactile feedback on the wrist.

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scanteeny

Sightronics has also developed a finger-worn assistant, Scan-Teeny,that consists of a camera mounted as a ring on the index finger. It extracts desired information from the images of the proximal objects; such as character recognition and detecting color/shapes of an object by providing real-time auditory feedback. It is small, socially acceptable and enables a more manageable operation.

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Sightronics presents a unique realization of a Braille cell via a portable and refresh-able solenoid-driven tactile display, TicTac-Braille. The blind person can feel the word in Braille by the touching the protruded solenoid tips. The goal of this interface is to create an interactive way to encourage and serve both blind and able-sighted people (who live/deal with the blind on regular basis) to learn the Braille script. This device would automate the process of learning the language.

– Team Sightronics

int3ger holds immense appreciation for Team Sightronics and their efforts for a cause most of us barely stop to think about. We wish them the best of luck in their venture of expanding vision.

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