Many of the current texting solutions for the visually impaired require them to verbally communicate messages to others, which doesn't allow for much privacy. Also, many of the available products require braille keyboards, which can be expensive and hard to bring on the go. In today's world, communication via text message on a mobile device is becoming more and more of a necessity, and those who are visually impaired should not be left behind.
What it does
In order to eliminate this existing problem, with an affordable and practical solution, our prototype implements current accelerometer technology, along with simple hand/arm twists and motions. This allows users to form sentences quickly and easily, which will ultimately allow them to communicate effectively with others in the future.
How we built it
Our prototype was made by utilizing the gyroscopic capabilities of the accelerometer, to gain information, which we then used to create the motions necessary to dictate the letters the user would like to type. The motions we created are based on the users arm twisting angle, allowing them to receive a cycle of letters which they can select at multiple, bidirectional speeds.
Challenges we ran into
Our first approach to implementing the multiple speed feature, was not as practical as we originally thought. After speaking with a couple of mentors, we were able to find a couple of solutions which would ultimately help us to simplify our task at hand. In addition to this, we also struggled to appropriately use a set of several external interrupts which would allow us to include a space for sentence formation. We came up with a variety of approaches which led us to our final solution.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Being able to understand the data processing of the accelerometer, and utilize that knowledge to its full capacity in making an easy to use searching system was our proudest accomplishment. After completing this task, we each felt as if we had a stronger grasp on the interaction between hardware and the data that it is able to provide.
What we learned
We did not notice how useful the accelerometer could be to our project when we first picked up our hardware components. We definitely made use of the accelerometer in a creative way allowing us to achieve outstanding results like providing visually impaired individuals with the opportunity to form sentences simply by rotating their arm. This has definitely reminded us on how much a small chip can change the world.
What's next for Wrista la Twista
We are looking to implement a voice feedback system which tells you which letter you have selected rather than displaying it on a LCD (this was our original idea, but a lack of hardware resources prevented us from achieving this goal). This will be the next biggest step to allow individuals to use this device to its full potential. Due to the constraint of time, we were only able to complete the functionality of allowing users to form plain sentences. It will be great to expand the library of characters that the user could select and customize; as priority, implementing a backspace will be most important. In addition, developing a software application which is capable of sending the messages created is a primary focus for the final version of this product.