Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has developed a haptic smart watch for blind and visually impaired people who want to use wearables to keep track of fitness and health.
IIT Kanpur claims that the watch will be cost-effective and suitable for private usage as compared to audio-based output devices.
What sets it apart is its watch face that has tactile touch-sensitive hour markers and uses vibration to give information on time, recognise different apps, and sense numbers.
For fitness tracking, the watch has a Photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor that can read heart rate and blood oxygen level (SpO2) along with an accelerometer to measure the steps and keep track of daily activity. It can also provide hydration reminders and has a smart timer that allows users to set short timers using unique hand gestures.
According to IIT Kanpur, there are around 49 million blind and 285 million visually impaired people in the world who face difficulty in using devices due to the absence of tactile interface.
India has 20% of the World’s blind population, which makes devices like these relevant for them.
“The touch-sensitive and vibration-based features would prove to be revolutionary in giving the sense of time to the blind and the visually impaired,” Abhay Karandikar, Director IIT Kanpur, said in a statement.
The watch was developed by Siddhartha Panda, a professor from Department of Chemical Engineering, and Vishwaraj Srivastava, a haptic experience designer at National Centre for Flexible Electronics in IIT Kanpur.
Haptics refers to technologies that use tactile feedback from devices to stimulate the sense of touch. It’s widely used in smartphones, game controllers, shoes and sex toys. Its application is rapidly growing in healthcare, research and defence.