Development of a reading device for the blind and visually impaired

OData support
Nagy Ákos
Department of Automation and Applied Informatics

Nowadays the technical improvements affect not only the sighted, but also the blind and visually impaired. Most of them use smartphones and computers on a daily basis. However, they must learn the usage of text-to-speech softwares, like Google TalkBack, Apple Voiceover, etc. Because of these technological advancements, Braille literacy among the blind and visually impaired has decreased. Substantial research has proven that reading Braille text uses the same cognitive processes in the brain as reading printed text for sighted people. In addition, blind and visually impaired people, who know Braille, have a higher level of education, better employment rate and higher income. Last, but not least, the Braille books and devices are very expensive: A Braille reader’s retail price is around 1,000,000 HUF, which is unattainable for an everyday user.

For the aforementioned problems, GlovEye is an affordable solution, which works as follows: The user takes a picture from the printed text, then the device can display it character-per-character with a Braille cell. It can also detect forward or backward steps with a wheel, so the user can define the reading speed. The device communicates via Bluetooth, the characters are shown by a 6x8 piezo crystal-based Braille cell. The device’s main controller is an Arduino Pro Micro development board. The device went through four major development phases. During the development, the main goal was to provide a user-friendly experience at an affordable price. There have been more than one hundred blind and visually impaired testers and a prototype has been given to the Hungarian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted.

The next step is to plan a dedicated PCB and casing to facilitate the manufacturing and to reduce the size. The wheel could be replaced with an optical sensor, and implementing a battery and a charging circuit are also bullet points for the project. The main goal is to reach a market-ready state until 2018 summer.


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