For visually impaired people it is difficult to digitally get graphical contents increasingly conveyed through sight. The sense of touch can potentially bridge the gap, as it is crucial -in absence of vision for understanding abstract concepts and acquiring information about the surroundings. Examples are learning at school and developing mental maps in orientation and mobility daily tasks. However, available touch screens have limited or no tactile feedback at all. The potential and the market of tactile displays are largely unexploited, although there is a clear demand from users: these devices need to become more versatile, cheaper, portable and socially acceptable. This project has made graphical contents accessible through touch by building and field-testing a Personal Assistive Device for BLIND and visually impaired people (BlindPAD). BlindPAD puts veridical touch-based information into the hands of users, exploiting and enhancing their residual sensory abilities. The BlindPAD has explored several technologies, compared in terms of actuation force, resolution, safety, power consumption and reliability.
By adopting a user-centered approach within an accessible and usable ecosystem, we have assessed, with serious games, how the BlindPAD can help visually impaired people in two paramount use cases: touch-based learning of symbolic content at school age; orientation and mobility skills indoor. We have shown that our programmable tactile display increases, in persons with sensory deficits, the spatial working memory, the mathematical abilities, the capacity to find one’s own position in an unknown space and spatial knowledge in general, beyond current rehabilitation protocols.
BlindPAD will be a personal, portable and cheap solution to improve knowledge and independence,thus increasing chances of employment, of social inclusion and, ultimately, of a better quality of life.
Details about the project
Project Number : 611621
Small or medium scale focused research project (STREP)
Call (part) identifier: FP7-ICT-2013-10
Topic: ICT-2013.5.3 “ICT for smart and personalised inclusion”
EC contribution: 2,000,000 €
Coordinator: Luca Brayda, IIT
Duration in months: 41 (January 1st 2014 – May 31st 2017)
Project Officer: Tünde Turbucz
Logo, Banner, Graphics and Multimedia material of Blindpad: Laura Taverna, Gianluca Bosi, Agnese Abrusci, Duilio Farina, Nicholas Dring
Website and mailing lists: Alessandro Bruchi, Federico Bozzini
Technical support: Diego Torazza, Elio Massa, Giorgio Zini, Bruno Bonino, Carlo Tacchino, Marco Jacono
Administrative Project Management: Maria Carmela Fierro, Giulia Campodonico, Francesca Boscolo, Chiara Andreoli, Gabriele Ballero