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A Dynamic Tactile Interface for Visually Impaired and Blind People

Principal researcher

Name: Ilona Kretzschmar

Contact details: CUNY City College, Chemical Engineering, Convent Ave at 138th St, Nnew york, NY 10031, United States of America.
Tel: +1 212 650 6769; Fax: +1 212 650 6660
Email: kretzschmar@ccny.cuny.edu


Project details

Start date: 01/10/2007
End date: 30/09/2010

Description: The project proposes the use of an electrically addressable and deformable polymeric film in order to develop a dynamic tactile interface that will enable visually impaired and blind people to access visual information (available on the Internet, computers, and digital cameras) in tactile form. The dynamic interface consists of three layers. The bottom layer is a touch screen that is connected to a computer for audio feedback with regard to the position touched on the screen. Isolated electrodes are embedded in the middle layer to address segments of the polymer film in the top layer. The top layer consists of the electroactive polymer film covered with a thin gold film, segments of which can extend out of the surface as a voltage is applied to the corresponding electrode in the middle layer. The project will fundamentally advance the engineering knowledge of human-computer interactions. The development of the dynamic tactile interface will also make it possible to gain deeper understanding of the touch sense, its relation to vision, and sense substitution. This tactile polymer technology is likely to find application in many other areas relying on tactile perception, e.g., sensory materials used in virtual reality, robotics and medical applications. The polymer technology has the potential of being inexpensive and widely applicable for undergraduate engineering student design projects, which could lead to other custom-designed devices for people with physical disabilities.

Other organisations involved in this project

Funded by the National Science Foundation.

Last updated: 15/03/2010