See in the dark with this bracelet build

Even though she’s only in 8th grade, [Hannah Prutchi] is turning into a very respectable builder. She designed SharkVision, a wearable distance sensor that is meant to help the blind find objects they might bump into.

The SharkVision gets its name from shark’s ability to ‘see’ prey in their surroundings by sensing the local magnetic field. Instead of building her own Ampullae of Lorenzini, [Hannah] decided to take the easy route and use a few infrared sensors mounted to a bracelet. Whenever something is picked up by the proximity sensor, a voltage is applied to a pager motor telling the wearer they’re about to run into something.

[Hannah] and her classmates have successfully tested the SharkVision bracelet by walking around their classroom with eyes closed. They didn’t bump into anything, a fact [Hannah] attributes to neuroplasticity. We think it’s a neat build, but we’re wondering if this could be given to a population of blind people.

27 thoughts on “See in the dark with this bracelet build

      1. The father and daughter(the older one) published a book called “Do It Yourself Quantum Physics: Exploring the History, Theory, and Applications of Quantum Physics Through Hands-On Projects,” which I failed at linking in my original post, so I posted it in the reply to my original post.

  1. @War_Spigot, I do not understand what you are saying, but I totally understand what you mean. I agree, the apple appears to have fallen close to the tree.

      1. Yeah, great idea, every time your car sees IR, the ABS kicks in.

        Not to mention it seems a device like this you aim in front of you to “see” with. IR requires line-of-sight.

        Digital RF signals would make a much better design for what you suggest — not that it’s needed since an AI which can sense pedestrians optically has already been invented by Stanford professors anyway.

  2. So, is it a first post if you are the first one to make any sense?

    This is an awesome build. The only thing I don’t understand is how you are supposed to hold your arms while you walk. Do you have to have your arms down to your sides with the sensors/IR LEDs facing forward?
    That doesn’t really seem like the most natural way to walk.

    Also, neuroplasticity is the ability for the brain to change the way you do something. In this case, avoiding objects from a vibration on your wrist instead of seeing an object. The summary makes it sound like the project doesn’t work and she’s just faking it.
    Hannah’s opinion is that it does work (both for her and her classmates).

    1. Hand in pockets and they end up pointing some 45 degrees to each side. Depending on the width of the detection area that would result in a coverage across the front of the person, with the ability to detect if something is in front or to one side.

  3. I recall reading about a similar build using 3 ultrasonic sensors strapped on the back of the hand. It would apply pressure to various parts of the hand to direct one towards or away from objects.

    1. Great work! Now integrate or stick on some shoes instead of wrist so you don’t trip over anything. Holding your wrist out might be tiring.

    2. Correct. This weekend the girls were reading the latest copy of Make, and Steve Hoefer’s “Tacit” (page 78) caught their attention, prompting Hannah to ask me to help her put on our blog the SharkVision that she built last year.

  4. Dunno if this counts as neuroplasticity cause the definition is dodgy. But in general it’s the wrong term, neuroplasticity refers to how the brain can change structurally to adapt.

    There is certainly not structural changes taking place here.

    Nice work, she looks like she’s 13 or so. So always nice to see some people taking an interest in electronics.

  5. I did something like that but using ultrasonic transducers some years ago for a workshop about bats in a museum. The children are wearing a headphone with a transducer on each earpad. The transducer is placed at the bottom of a plastic cup, facing forward. They can hear a ping coming back at variable rate according to the distance of an obstacle like systems for cars. Having each ear separated, they are able to move freely with eyes shut within one or 2 minutes. It is a great hits, kids love it !

  6. This reminds me a lot of a device I saw on a TV show somewhat recently. The show Covert Affairs features a CIA op who is blind, and in lieu of a cane he uses a laser rangefinder system with a vibration alert. It fits in a similar form factor to an average laser pointer.

    I imagine this would be quite possible as well as quite useful for those without sight who are sick of the huge (even if collapsable) canes.

  7. Good work by Hannah,stating the obvious only those who are blind can determine if this is something that could benefit them. Looks like an inexpensive project a hacker space could use to generate positive PR. Crank a lot of these puppies out so it can be tested by the target population, to see if it holds promise for further refinement. For this to be huge improvement over the cane I see resolution being a problem. Personally I would need to be aware of objects from ground level up to 75″, knowing if there’s a need to step down would be important too. Another item lacking lacking is the visual clue to the able bodied population the white cane provides. All in all this could be good first step, to a useful device only time can tell. Of course neuroplasticity is at play here, it always is during our daily lives, its at play when the blind learn to use the cane so their brain can form an “image” of it’s immediate environment. I’m a stroke survivor, while I’m not an expert I do have a lot of experience with neuroplasticity at work, as would anyone who suffers a significant brain injury.

    1. Sorry to be troll-like, but I really think anyone with their eyes closed can use this to figure out if it helps with lack of vision. Limiting the use of this to blind people seems premature.

  8. Well +1 to a kid doing an electronics project that is a) useful b) not an amalgamation of off-the-shelf-products. Although if she needs help blogging something at age 13, time to put down the soldering iron and diversify :P

  9. Actually, as someone stated above, putting a sensor on each side of the lenses of some sunglasses facing forward, and then 2 more right in front of the ear pieces facing sideways would give warning in front of and to the sides. couple this with a belt which contains 5 or 6 small cell phone vibe motors situated around the axis of the person and you could give them directional data.

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