IIT Kanpur develops haptic smartwatch for visually impaired

Kanpur, May 28 (IANS) A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur on Saturday announced that it has developed a novel touch-sensitive smart watch for visually impaired persons that are equipped with modern techniques.

The watch comprises sensors like PPG (Photoplethysmography) to read health parameters such as the heart rate and SpO2.

An accelerometer is used to measure the step count to keep track of daily activity. All these parameters can be individually read using the haptic menu.

“One of our objectives at IIT Kanpur has been to make innovations inclusive for all. This haptic smart watch is a significant invention in this regard, which I believe will be of great help for the blind and the visually impaired,” Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur, said in a statement.

“The touch-sensitive and vibration-based features would prove to be revolutionary in giving the sense of time to the blind and the visually impaired. I congratulate the team led by Prof. Siddhartha Panda, and Vishwaraj Srivastava, for this invention,” he added.

The invention is said to be a cost-effective smart wearable device with a touch-sensitive tactile interface that displays information using vibrations.

The dial face consisting of tactile touch-sensitive hour markers and vibration-based output is used to read time, create an interface to select different apps, haptically recognize different apps, and to sense the numbers.

The report said that around 49 million blind and 285 million visually impaired persons in the world face difficulty in easily interacting with devices due to the absence of tactile interface and India is home to about 20 per cent of the total blind people in the world.