Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) have created a unique touch-sensitive watch for visually impaired people to use to precisely perceive time.
There are various timepieces available for the visually impaired at the moment. The current mechanical watches were inconvenient to use. To tell the time, the user must feel the needles on the hour and minute hands. Since these are moving parts, they are susceptible to breakage. Another alternative that exists currently is audio feedback on the watch. Again, this is not user-friendly and violates privacy. The researchers understood the need to create user-friendly, silent and sturdy watches for the visually impaired.
“The watch we have developed is a haptic watch with a tactile interface that makes it easy for the visually impaired people to read time easily. The watch has tactile hour indicators of different shapes that makes it easy for the visually impaired people to recognise them,” claims prof Siddhartha Panda of IIT-K who developed it with Vishwaraj Srivastava, a research associate at the National Centre for Flexible Electronics, IIT Kanpur.
“The user has to touch and scan the touch sensitive watch’s hour indicators and with the help of different vibration patterns, the watch communicates back the time information that is easily perceived by the user. This way, the person is able to read time,” the professor said.
“As there is no need for an audio feedback, this watch will provide privacy of use. Also, one of the advantages of this watch over a standard mechanical watch is that unlike the mechanical needles present on that watch, this watch has no moving parts,” prof Panda said. “Our entire watch surface is one sturdy tactile surface and thus there is no fear of breaking the needles while touching the watch,” he added.
IIT Kanpur director, professor Abhay Karandikar tweeted, “A novel touch-sensitive watch for visually impaired has been developed by prof Siddhartha Panda and Vishwaraj Srivastava of IIT Kanpur to sense the time accurately and silently based on touch sensing and vibrations.”