Innovation That Matters

Accessibility technology

Interactive system helps visually impaired use touchscreens


This innovation could open up possibilities for the visually impaired that many take for granted everyday.

Spotted: Springwise has already spotted various innovations designed to help those with disabilities to use modern technology, to the same extent as able-bodied people. For example, this app and smart keyboard duo helps disabled users get online. Another app helps disabled air passengers receive personalised support. A student innovation from Canada could now also make touchscreens in public spaces far more accessible for the visually impaired.

Craig Loewen and Lior Lustgarten from the University of Waterloo identified the need for improved accessibility in public touchscreen technology. Many everyday, crucial services ranging from ticket purchasing to cash machines require the use of touchscreens, which visually impaired users may not be able to see or feel, preventing them from accessing the machines that many people consider to be a part of everyday life.

WatVision is aiming to counteract to this problem with an innovation that combines the functions of both an app and a ring. The user opens the app and points the camera at the touchscreen they wish to use. Once the screen is in shot, the user can point, using their ring hand, and the app will identify and read it aloud.

There are plans to further develop this technology into a glove format. This design will contain a Bluetooth sensor, so that vibrations within the glove inform the user how close they are to the screen or to individual buttons.

The current app and ring technology is economical, with the hardware ring costing less than €2 to produce. The students are currently in the process of patenting their design.




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