Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


System to aid the blind nominated for Descartes Prize


“Being nominated for the Descartes Prize is very gratifying; it’s an important recognition of our work,” says Teresa Gutierrez, coordinator of a short-listed project competing for the Descartes Prize for outstanding scientific work by a multinational team of researchers.

Involving six partners from four European countries, the IST GRAB project developed a system to allow blind and visually impaired people to access three-dimensional computer graphics through the senses of touch and hearing. “We always saw the potential of this technology and we’re pleased that others see it as well,” says Gutierrez, a researcher at Fundación Labein in Spain.

The GRAB project - which is among 14 projects competing for the European Commission’s 1.15 million euro Descartes Research Prize, the winners of which will be announced in London on December 2 – forms part of ongoing research by Labein and the other project partners into haptic and audio technologies to aid people who are visually impaired. The GRAB system allows users to feel the geometric features of 3D graphics through a force-feedback haptic interface connected to two articulated arms in which users place their index finger or thumb of each hand. Combined with audio information, the system allows users to recognise the geometric features of virtual objects, and calculate distances and spatial relationships between them.

“There are a wide variety of applications for this technology, not just for the visually impaired but also for medical and industrial training in virtual environments,” Gutierrez explains. “In the project we developed three application scenarios to test the system.”

A 3D city map allowed visually-impaired users to recognise streets and plan routes in advance; a chart data explorer allowed them to ‘feel’ the information contained in graphs; and an adventure game let them explore a virtual building.

“The game was particularly liked by trial users who to date have largely been confined to non-interactive static games, while the chart explorer allows visually-impaired people to visualise in their minds the performance of say a company on the stock market,” the coordinator says. “Overall the reactions were very positive; almost everyone noted that it allows them to do things they couldn’t do before.”

Nonetheless, Gutierrez says that the technology needs to be refined further and the cost of the system brought down before a commercial product can be released. With that goal in mind some of the project partners have set up a network of excellence to continue their research.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>