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Accessibility technology

Interactive system helps visually impaired use touchscreens


This innovation could open up possibilities for the visually impaired that many take for granted everyday.

Springwise has already spotted various innovations designed to help those with disabilities use modern technology to the same extent as able-bodied people. For example, this app and smart keyboard duo helps disabled users get online. Another app also helps disabled air passengers receive personalised support. A student innovation from Canada could now also make touchscreens in public spaces far more accessible for the visually impaired.

Craig Loewen and Lior Lustgarten from the University of Waterloo identified the need for improved accessibility in public touchscreen technology. Many everyday, crucial services ranging from ticket purchasing to cash machines require the use of touchscreens. Visually impaired users are therefore faced with machines that they cannot see or feel the buttons of. This clearly leads to fundamental obstacles in accessing machines that many people consider natural parts of their everyday.

WatVision seeks to be the solution to this problem. It works through the combination of an app and a ring. The user opens the app and points the camera at the touchscreen they want to use. Once the screen is in shot, the user can point using the ring hand and the app will identify and read out what is being pointed at.

There are future plans to further develop this technology into a glove format. This new design would contain a Bluetooth sensor. Vibrations within the glove would inform the user as to how close they were to the screen and even individual buttons.

The current app and ring technology is economical, with the hardware ring costing less than 2 CAD to produce. The students are currently in the process of patenting their design.




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