Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new system that uses a 3-D camera, a belt with separately controllable vibrational motors distributed around it, and an electronically reconfigurable Braille interface to give visually impaired users more information about their environments.
The researchers’ system consists of a 3-D camera worn in a pouch hung around the neck; a processing unit that runs the team’s proprietary algorithms; the sensor belt, which has five vibrating motors evenly spaced around its forward half; and the reconfigurable Braille interface, which is worn at the user’s side.
The key to the system is an algorithm for quickly identifying surfaces and their orientations from the 3-D-camera data. The researchers experimented with three different types of 3-D cameras, which used three different techniques to gauge depth but all produced relatively low-resolution images — 640 pixels by 480 pixels — with both color and depth measurements for each pixel.
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