New Delhi: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has announced partnership with Ambrane India for mass manufacturing of “haptic smartwatch for the blind and visually impaired“. The haptic smartwatch comes in two variants and has 12 touch-sensitive hour markers arranged over the dial face. Users will be required to scan the markers with their fingers. The smartwatch has been developed by Professor Siddhartha Panda and Vishwaraj Srivastava from the National Centre for Flexible Electronics at IIT Kanpur.
Watches that are currently available for the blind and the visually impaired can be broadly classified into tactile, talking, vibration, and braille-based. These watches have their limitations. There is a risk of needle breakage in tactile watches, similarly talking watches do not offer a private mode of communication. As forvibration watches, they are complicated while braille watches are expensive. The haptic watch developed at IIT Kanpur aims to address the drawbacks of all these conventional technologies and offer a seamless experience to the wearer.
How the watch works
The haptic watch developed at IIT Kanpur has 12 touch sensitive hour markers arranged over the dial face. The user is required to scan the markers with his/her fingers. For instance, to check the time of 3:40, the 3rd and 8th marker in the watch will be termed as the active markers. The vibration pulse will get generated on touching the active markers. A long pulse on 3 will indicate hours and a short pulse on 8 will indicate minutes for checking the time of 3:40.
The watch is a mix of tactile and vibration watches. The complexity of vibration watch generating more than 20 pulses has been reduced to 2 pulses, and the fragile nature of a tactile watch is eliminated, thus resulting in a simple-to-use, private, affordable, and robust watch.
How the smartwatch solves the drawbacks of traditional watches
The smartwatch model is equipped with smart features to indicate health parameters such as heart rate, step count, hydration reminder and smart timer to set short timer by using simple gesture.
The existing smartwatches for the blind and visually impaired use audio-based output and lacks privacy. The IIT Kanpur-developed smartwatch, which offers a tactile-haptic interface for display of time and health parameters, addresses these drawbacks. The use of innovative haptic icons makes it easy to navigate the menu and a simple gesture like the double-tap can open a particular health monitoring app. These numbers are communicated in a similar way as the time.