‘Low vision’ (LV) is a common form of vision impairment that involves irreversible vision loss – significantly reduced vision but not total blindness and hence still usable vision – affecting 246 million people globally.
The project aims to develop an open-source haptic proximity module (HPM) costing approximately $50, which will enable LV users to engage with their direct environment via interactive touch as a measure of closeness. This contributes to the discourse on wearable assistive technology while incorporating off-the-shelf components to create an accessible ‘do-it-yourself’ project.
After conducting a study of LV, its effects on an individual’s functional independence and available assistive technologies, the project’s findings show that people with LV are still reasonably independent within the home, but outside the home this independence begins to deteriorate. The available products are expensive and narrow in application, lacking cheap and readily available haptic devices that extend a LV user’s perception of their immediate surroundings.
The outcomes of this research explore how these findings can be addressed to positively impact on the interaction of LV users with their surroundings. The larger goal of enabling a broader LV user group is then achieved through developing low cost HPMs.
Haptic Proximity Module:Open Source Assistive Technology for the Vision Impaired
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Low Vision (LV) is a form of vision impairment that involves irreversible vision loss; it is significantly reduced vision but not blindness and is still usable vision. According to the World Health Organisation, LV affects 246 million people worldwide and their Quality of Life.
The findings of a study of LV, its effects on an individual’s functional independence and available assistive technologies, showed that:
People with LV are still reasonably independent within the home, albeit with learned coping methods, however, outside of the home this independence begins to deteriorate.
Available products are either too expensive and are specific in application; there are no cheap and readily available haptic device that extended a LV user’s perception of distance and objects within their surrounding.
How can both of these findings be addressed to positively impact the interaction of a LV user with their surroundings?
Development of an open-source Haptic Proximity Module (HPM) began with the intention of enabling a LV user to engage their immediate environment for approximately $50 AUD. This approach incorporates off-the-shelf components and can be acquired as a DIY kit or pre-assembled unit, while contributing to the discourse on wearable assistive technologies (AT).