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Researchers develop intelligent eyewear for the blind

03/06/2015

ADSC researchers are in the process of developing an intelligent eyewear, InSIGHT, which is designed to help the blind or visually impaired detect obstacles above waist level and identify people in their vicinity, where a walking cane cannot help.

InSIGHT's four embedded sensors help detect obstables and human presence within a certain proximity.
InSIGHT's four embedded sensors help detect obstables and human presence within a certain proximity.
ADSC software engineers Vignesh Ramkrishnan and Wasif Khaja began working on the project in August 2014 after Singapore’s Exploit Technologies (the commercialization branch of A*STAR) issued a challenge for researchers to develop ideas that would enhance the lives of people – the Intelligent Wellness Design Thinking Challenge. Ramkrishnan and Khaja received S$10,000 in funding, which was used for consultation with industrial designers and for creating a 3-D printed mock-up eyewear prototype. Ramkrishnan and Khaja are now working on creating a functional prototype that demonstrates all the features of InSIGHT.

InSIGHT uses four embedded sensors - ultrasound, thermal, microphone and a camera - to detect objects, as well as vibrating units that provide feedback to the wearer about the location of an obstacle or person. The localized vibrations correspond to the direction and position of the obstacle.

“There was an immersion event, as part of the program, where we had a chance to interact with disabled people and understand their everyday challenges,” Ramkrishnan said. “We learned that colliding with obstacles was a common problem faced by the blind and we hope our solution could make it easier for them.”

ADSC software engineer Vignesh Ramkrishnan demonstrates InSIGHT.
ADSC software engineer Vignesh Ramkrishnan demonstrates InSIGHT.
While the technology isn’t directly tied to an ADSC research project, Ramkrishnan and Khaja’s work at ADSC has equipped them with expertise in the fields of obstacle sensing using sensors and object recognition from an RGB image.

They were recently awarded the Highest Social Impact Award at A*STAR’s annual technology exhibition, Media Exploits, competing against over 10 other teams who participated in the Intelligent Wellness Design Thinking Challenge. Awards were also given to the most novel technology and the one with the highest market potential.

Media Exploits is a place for regional researchers to showcase their interactive digital media technology in Singapore. The exhibit featured over 50 exhibition booths highlighting research in the areas of media processing, wearables and sensors, intelligent wellness, games, animation and more.

ADSC researchers had two booths showcasing their technologies – InSIGHT and 3D mobile sensing. Additionally, four other companies featured ADSC technology: Image Science (ADSC’s fashion match technology); ESP Group (ADSC’s ARISE team); Basilo Labs (ADSC’s Magic Touch research); and CrowdRadar (ADSC’s crowd density analysis and prediction research).