Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur researchers have developed a touch-sensitive and cost-effective smart watch for the visually impaired which conveys information through vibrations, the institute said in a statement.
The watch has been developed at the National Centre for Flexible Electronics, IIT Kanpur by Siddhartha Panda, Department of Chemical Engineering and Vishwaraj Srivastava.
Abhay Karandikar, director of IIT Kanpur, said, “One of our objectives at IIT Kanpur has been to make innovations inclusive for all. This haptic smart watch is a significant invention in this regard, which I believe will be of great help for the blind and the visually impaired. The touch-sensitive and vibration-based features would prove to be revolutionary in giving the sense of time to the blind and the visually impaired. I congratulate the team led by Siddhartha Panda and Vishwaraj Srivastava for this invention.”
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. Through haptics it recognises different apps, and senses the numbers.
IIT Kanpur stated that the watch comprises of 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. The developed watch has a special feature called a “smart timer” which is used to set short timers using a simple and unique gesture.
According to the institute, about 285 million visually impaired persons in the world face difficulty in easily interacting with devices due to the absence of tactile interface. India is home to about 20% of the total visually impaired people in the world. Haptics deals with the technology that stimulates the sense of touch.