New Device Helps Visually Impaired Students to “See” What's on the Screen
Ian Palmer posted on March 13, 2019 |
HaptImage cofounders Ting Zhang (left) and Shruthi Suresh (right) use their system to “touch” and interact with digital blood cells on screen. (Image courtesy of Purdue Research Foundation image/Oren Darling.)
HaptImage cofounders Ting Zhang (left) and Shruthi Suresh (right) use their system to “touch” and interact with digital blood cells on screen. (Image courtesy of Purdue Research Foundation image/Oren Darling.)

Students with visual impairments that impede their classroom learning experiences will be better able to see and learn from on-screen material by using a new device.

HaptImage LLC, a startup affiliated with Purdue University, has developed a new technology that will be particularly applicable to students in technical fields like engineering and science since it will help them to better visualize graphics. Previously, such students needed an on-screen 3D-printed mockup or an audio description to aid their learning.

The technology employs an algorithm that changes digital images into physical sensations that impersonate the would-be exterior of the portrayed object. Users hold a joystick that resembles a pen, and as they move the joystick about, it makes vibrations and resistance in correspondence with the digital object’s shape and feel. What this means is that students can interact in a classroom setting in real time, rather than employing the time-consuming process of using 3D printouts or audio descriptions.

See YouTube video of the STEM-designed Assistive Technology here.

Ting Zhang, a doctoral student at Purdue University’s School of Industrial Engineering, developed the system alongside her co-advisors. They included Juan Wachs, a professor with the university’s School of Industrial Engineering, and Bradley Duerstock, a professor with the School of Industrial Engineering and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

Zhang cofounded HaptImage with Shruthi Suresh, a doctoral student at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, to commercialize the new device. The startup has already raked in investments worth $47,500.

The startup is preparing to launch its device in the fall via a tiered subscription. Its technology is licensed through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization.

Check out the following link to find out about a development suggesting that micro robots could help to prevent blindness.



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