A step towards enlightment for those living in the world of darkness
There are about 284 million people around the world who are visually impaired. They lack an important gift of nature in their lives, the sense of vision. Forget about exploring about beautiful things and colorful panoramas, they even struggle to work to earn their livings. One of the main concerns which cease their freedom is the dependence on others for navigating from one place to another. The dependence over others is somewhat demoralizing to these people.
Even while looking at the statistical and economic data, about 90% of the visually impaired population lives in the developing countries. The trauma, which they suffer from, is unimaginable for others. They mostly belong to lower-middle income background and their disability causes trouble for the entire family. The elegant and costly electronics gadgets are out of their buying capacity and inexpensive aids are not as effective as they need.
We in collaboration with SEAS- University of Pennsylvania developed a touch feedback based waist belt. The belt uses Microsoft Kinect as a depth sensor and processes its data to identify direction, distance and movement of potential obstacles coming into the user’s path. The inner side of the belt contains a vibration panel that produces stereo vibration around the waist to signal obstacle’s location. The intensity of vibrations signifies the distance of the obstacle, its relative position on the belt gives the direction and change in relative position signifies motion of the obstacles.
We collaborated with National Association for the Blind [NAB], Delhi where we learned about the challenges visually impaired usually face. Based upon their feedback we developed the belt and Mohd. Wasim (a computer operator at NAB) used this belt. He’d successfully navigate through the corridors without any stick.
‘viSparsh’ has been recognized as one of the top 12 Asian innovations by Wall Street Journal along with winning several accolades including Accenture Innovation Jockeys Award-2012 and Economics Times: Power of Ideas Challenge-2012.
Technical details can be found on the project page which can be access by the URL below.
Project Page: visparsh.blogspot.com
Timeline: Oct’11 – May’12
Collaborators: Rolly Seth, Jatin Sharma, Rahul Mangharam[Mentor – University of Pennsylvania]