Communication is essential in everyday life. It helps us to understand people other than ourselves. This also means that they can express their thoughts, emotions, needs and concerns. Reading and writing is something that we all learn from our youth but not everyone has the opportunity of doing so. The National Federation of the Blind regards blindness as the inability to see or discern light from darkness. People who have bad eyesight although they use corrective lenses may be categorized as partially blind. Around the world there is an estimated number of 285 million people who have impaired vision. This is a large amount of people who are unable to read and write normal text which is essential in everyday life.
Our group is aware of the struggle of the visually impaired and we have decided to tackle the challenge of creating something that will benefit them. Our group has come up with an idea of a Braille translator that will translate text input on the fly into Braille through the use of a mobile phone and a product that we have designed. It connects to the phone via Bluetooth pairing which is now available on most, if not all, mobile phones on the current market. The product works by using solenoids to push pins that will form Braille characters. This product will have only one cell and the dots will constantly change to form words. Through our research, we have found out that the average Braille reading speed is 125 words per minute. Our product aims to achieve 80 letters per minute using a single refreshable cell. There is currently no product like ours out there on the market and if we are successful, we plan to make this technology available to people. This product is designed to be economical as we have found out that 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income settings.
This project ties in well with the subject of ergonomics. The product is designed for the visually impaired and it must be easy to operate by all. Our basis for designing this product is the Principles of Ergonomics that we have learnt. One of the physical principles that we have taken into consideration is to minimize fatigue. With this in mind, our product has been designed to be lightweight to reduce the stress on the user if they are required to use it for long periods of time. Another physical principle we have considered is to minimize contact stress. Because the user has to hold it in their hands for extended periods of time, our product will use a grip that is well contoured to ensure a good grip and to minimize the amount of force it requires to hold it up. We will also take into account of the different sizes of hands that will use this product with the use of anthropometric measurements.
We have also put thought into the cognitive principles or ergonomics, how people think and perceive things and their interaction with the system. Our product is standardized to the Grade 1 English Braille as it is the most basic level. The cognitive principle of stereotyping is applied through the feel of the product. The contoured grip will let a user know where to hold the device and place their fingers.