Chennai

Devices for people with hearing, motor impairments

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) have developed devices for those with hearing impairment and motor disabilities.

The products are embedded systems and bring the latest developments from the ‘Internet of Things’ and machine learning to wearable assistive devices, which come with rechargeable batteries.

Vibe and iGest communicate through mobile phones via Bluetooth. Developed by the Centre for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology (CREATE), IIT-M’s multidisciplinary translational research and educational initiative, the project is supported by Sony Pictures Network India under its CSR initiatives.

Improvements to existing wearable devices were necessary, as their prices were prohibitive, and this excluded the hearing impaired from mainstream and inclusive education, said Anil Prabhakar, head of CREATE and faculty at the Department of Electrical Engineering.

“The cost of the product is kept under ₹5,000, so that it is an affordable device with basic functionality. Low-cost micro-controllers and sensors helped develop the device,” he said.

Vibe is a wearable device that vibrates for acoustic sounds around a person with hearing impairment. It features a multitude of sound patterns that are recognised using a microphone and voice-recognition modules. It can be worn as a watch, and will alert the hearing impaired about specific sounds such as that of a doorbell, an alarm or a crying child. It simply provides vibration input for pre-identified surrounding sounds, with each sound corresponding to a specific vibration and blinking LEDs to alert the user.

iGest, which aims to address speech and motor impairments in people with cerebral palsy, will function as an alternative and augmentative communication device. Movements of people with cerebral palsy are much slower and less repetitive than in normal people. iGest recognises the gestures of those with limited motor skills and converts them into audio output through a smartphone. The device is designed around available Edge ML micro-controllers that provide machine learning (ML) capabilities to IoT devices.


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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 6:00:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/devices-for-people-with-hearing-motor-impairments/article37815052.ece

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