IIT-M students design device for typing in braille

Four students from the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras have come together to develop a handy device for the visually impaired.

The assistive device fits into the port of a smartphone and helps them to type, learn and read braille content. It also allows them to self-navigate through space and recognise people and objects.

Four students — Sundar Raman P., Adil Mohammed K., Shivam Maheshwari and Andrea Elizabeth Biju — got together to develop the device. While Sundar is a final-year electrical engineering student, Adil and Shivam are pursuing second- and third-year engineering design. Andrea is a second-year student of aerospace engineering.

The students improvised on an existing product that allows the visually impaired to read PDF files on their phone. But it is a cumbersome exercise as the reader must carry a separate device. Sundar said the aim was to leverage the smartphone’s capability, as most people carry one today.

The team came up with Cube, a compact device that fits into the smartphone’s charging port or earphone jack. It has four refreshable braille cells (24 dots) on one side and a camera on the other.

The camera on the device, along with the smartphone’s camera, is used to capture and process (computer vision) a wide field of view to provide the user navigation information through tactile braille cells about the proximity and nature of the obstacles.

The refreshable braille cells project symbols to convey time, proximity to obstacles etc. and help in learning and typing on the smartphone in braille.

Currently, the visually impaired rely on slow audio feedback to type. But Cube intends to change that, said Sundar. The device can be folded to the back of the phone using a flexible connector.

Vishnu Suresh, a fourth-year student of Integrated MA in English Studies, who tried it out, said being able to type on the phone was like typing on a braille typewriter. “It has a keyboard through which we can type the way we type on a braille typewriter. It is perfect,” he said

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 1:27:18 AM |

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