Stephen Brewster, professor of human-computer interaction at University of Glasgow, has been testing a haptic system he developed to teach blind kids how to write. The system focuses around the popular Phantom Omni force feedback device from Sensable to help guide the pen in the right direction.
Recently, and in collaboration with the University of Auckland, he has been piloting the device in schools in Auckland. ‘We have worked with pretty much every blind student under 16 years in the whole of Auckland and it seems to work surprisingly well,’ Professor Brewster says. ‘The device can guide or constrain certain types of movements, so as the teacher draws on a touch screen the movements are echoed directly back to the student, allowing the student to feel the movements and learn the letter shapes.’
Professor Brewster’s research has implications not only for visually impaired people.
He is working on technology that he hopes will help us all experience the world in a different way. ‘My research is in multi-modal interaction, which is all about combining the different senses to use computers or access information, the idea being that the more ways of interacting that you can provide, the richer the data. If your eyes are already busy, for example when you’re using a mobile phone to text and you’re walking down the street, why not use some of your other senses instead of getting run over?’
Link: Writing with feeling…