Data plotting for the visually impaired

This setup helps to represent data in a meaningful way to for visually impaired people. It uses a combination of physical objects to represent data clusters, and audio feedback when manipulating those objects. In the video after the break you’ll see that the cubes can orient themselves to represent data clusters. The table top acts as a graphing field, with a textured border as a reference for the user. A camera mounted below the clear surface allows image processing software to calculate the locations for the cubes. Each cube is motorized and contains an Arduino and ZigBee module, listening for positioning information from the computer that is doing the video processing. Once in position, the user can move the cubes, with modulated noise as a measure of how near they are to the heart of each data cluster.

The team plans to conduct further study on the usefulness of this interactive data object. We certainly see potential for hacking as this uses off-the-shelf components that are both inexpensive, and easy to find. It certainly reminds us of a multitouch display with added physical tokens.

[Thanks UrsusExplorans]

Comments

  1. d01 says:

    cool idea though it hurt my eardrums :)

  2. Colin says:

    That’s a really cool and interesting way to interact with the data. While they may be able to improve the audio feedback (so it doesn’t hurt d01’s eardrums) it’s a great proof of concept.

  3. Thank you very much for posting this!

    Just a little correction: The pitch of the “modulated noise” (a sawtooth synthesizer) is not mapped to the distance between prototype of the cluster and the object, but to the local data density in the neighborhood of the object.

  4. Whatnot says:

    Completely fake demonstration, you can see him position his fingers before touching the cubes and even move his hand in the right shape to hold it up before even sensing it.
    That blindfold wasn’t on for that test once they switched to the top view.
    And it’s not like we are forcing them but why do an initial shot of him supposedly having a blindfold? Bit lame and not a real test, they won’t learn the flaws and issues that way either.

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