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— Good Thinking

Touch-sensitive 3D maps guide the blind with spoken instructions

Getting around unfamiliar public spaces can be tough even with all your senses, but if you can't see where you're going it's downright intimidating. A new multi-sensory model promises a brighter future, though, with 3D maps that give spoken directions and building information when touched. The technology comes courtesy of a collaboration between tactile-graphics company Touch Graphics and the University of Buffalo's Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), and while it was designed specifically to help visually-impaired people, it's also meant to show off the potential of tangible touch interfaces. Read More
— Good Thinking

SightCompass uses Bluetooth beacons to inform visually impaired of their surroundings

With their GPS capabilities and navigation apps, smartphones have undoubtedly made it easier for us to find our way around. The good news is we are starting to see these benefits extended to the visually impaired. SightCompass is a system that harnesses these strengths of the smartphone and combines them with proximity beacons to inform blind people of their surroundings. Read More
— Medical

Eye pressure-monitoring implant could save glaucoma patients from blindness

Currently, people with glaucoma must have their internal optic pressure (the pressure within their eye) regularly checked by a specialist. If that IOP gets too high, then steps need to be taken to lower it, before vision damage can occur. The problem is, the pressure can change quickly, potentially rising to dangerous levels between those checks. A new implant, however, could make it possible for patients to check their own IOP as often as they like, using their smartphone. Read More
— Good Thinking

wayfindr tech guides the blind through London Underground using Bluetooth beacons

Even more so than their sighted counterparts, blind people rely heavily on public transport. In a survey of blind youth conducted by the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), however, about half of the participants stated that they were uncomfortable using the London Underground. With that in mind, the RLSB's Youth Forum partnered with the ustwo design firm to create a prototype system known as wayfindr. It uses a combination of Bluetooth beacons, an app, and bone conduction headphones to guide users through the subway system. Read More
— Good Thinking

Low-cost reading system enables visually impaired to hear graphical content

From a contact lens that delivers tactile sensations to the cornea, to a 3D-printed ring that reads text aloud in real-time, advances in technology have opened up some groundbreaking ways for the visually-impaired to consume printed content. Researchers from Australia's Curtin University have now unveiled a low-cost reading device that processes graphical information, enabling the blind to digest documents such as bills, PDFs, graphs and bank statements. Read More
— Wearable Electronics

Vibrating glove teaches Braille through passive haptic learning

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a glove that helps users learn to read and write Braille, all while focusing on unrelated activities. The wearable computer uses miniature vibrating motors sewn into the knuckles, and was found to assist in developing motor skills in participants without them focusing on the movement of their hands. Read More
— Good Thinking

Hi-tech glasses aim to assist the blind with directions and obstacle detection

Researchers from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) in Mexico have developed a pair of glasses that use a combination of ultrasound, GPS, stereoscopic vision and artificial intelligence to help the visually impaired to navigate their environment. The device, perhaps the most sophisticated of its kind, is slated to reach mass production early next year and will likely cost up to US$1,500. Read More
— Games

Audio-only game Grail to the Thief puts a blind-accessible spin on old-school adventures

Games that are accessible to the blind are few and far between, and – aside from a handful of stellar exceptions like Somethin’ Else’s Papa Sangre series on iOS – those that do exist tend to be amateurish at best. But a recently-funded Kickstarter project (which still has a few days to go) aims to rectify the problem. Grail to the Thief harks back to classic adventure games like Zork, Day of the Tentacle, and Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, except that instead of text-only descriptions of twisty little passages and the like, it presents the entire game through audio. Read More