Feed on

Building an Assistive Technology Prototype, by Joel Zimba, Special Projects Coordinator, MDTAP

Earlier this week, I met with two volunteer engineers working in conjunction with V-Linc, which was featured in a previous blog
post. Our goal is to create a SONAR navigation device for use by the blind.

The initial baseline will be modeled upon the Tacit Project (http://grathio.com/2011/08/how-trying-to-make-a-video-game-created-sonar-for-the-blind-2/), created by Grathio Labs.

In essence, the Tacit device employs two ultrasonic sensors which use reflected sound waves to build a tactile model of a user’s
surroundings.  The entire device is small enough to fit on the back of the hand.

Many electronic mobility aids for the blind have been created over the last few decades.  Some of them, such as the LASER cane required training and were prohibitively expensive.  There have been many other ultrasonic devices as well, but most use auditory signals or vibrations to signal information.  One of the unique features of the Tacit device is how it harnesses variable pressure to allow the wearer to feel their surroundings at a distance.

We expect to have the initial build completed around the first week of January.  I plan to test it extensively, and to also seek input from others.  A second round of development may include improvements as well as modifications for ruggedization and
miniaturization.  Future blog posts will detail the progress and implementation of this device, so stay tuned!

Leave a Reply

MDTAP | 2301 Argonne Drive, Room T17 Baltimore, Maryland 21218| Voice: 410-554-9230 Toll Free ⁄ Voice 1-800-832-4827|Email: mdtap@mdtap.org