Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur has developed an innovative touch-sensitive smartwatch for the blind and visually impaired persons.
The novel gadget has been developed at the National Centre for Flexible Electronics, IIT Kanpur by Prof Siddhartha Panda, Department of Chemical Engineering and Mr Vishwaraj Srivastava.
Around 49 million blind and 285 million visually impaired persons in the world encounter difficulty in seamlessly interacting with devices due to the absence of tactile interface. India is home to about 20 percent of the world’s total blind people, according to the IIT Kanpur.
To alleviate such challenges, the IIT Kanpur team developed the smartwatch that functions in haptic mode. Haptics deals with the technology that stimulates the sense of touch.
“One of our objectives is to make innovations inclusive for all. This haptic smartwatch is a significant invention, which I believe will be of great help to the blind and the visually impaired. The touch-sensitive and vibration-based features would prove to be revolutionary in giving the sense of time,” IIT Kanpur Director Prof Abhay Karandikar observed.
The invention is a cost-effective smart wearable device with a touch-sensitive tactile interface that displays information using vibrations. This makes it more suitable for private usage compared to audio-based output devices available in the market.
The dial face consisting tactile touch-sensitive hour markers and vibration-based output is used to read time, create an interface to select different apps, haptically recognise different apps, and to sense the numbers.
The watch comprises sensors like PPG (Photoplethysmography) to read health parameters such as the heart rate and SpO2.
An accelerometer is used to measure the step count to keep track of daily activity. All these parameters can be individually read using the haptic menu.
It has a special feature called a ‘smart timer’ which is used to set short timers using a simple and unique gesture.
Registered in 1959, IIT Kanpur was assisted by nine leading US-based institutions in setting up of its academic programmes and laboratories during 1962-72.