Haptic Proximity Module
‘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.