The New Indian Express | By Tiki Rajwi | Express News Service | 31st October 2016 | | Lighting the way for the blind |
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At first glance, it resembles your bedside flashlight. Not so long ago it indeed was one. It still is, in a way; but with a twist. It now ‘lights’ the way for the blind. Five M Tech students of ER&DCI-IT (academic wing of C-DAC Thiruvananthapuram) have developed a handy android app-based travel aid for the visually challenged. They have named it ‘Indriya,’ Sanskrit for sense. The inventors – Sujith B Kallara, Roshan Raju, Padmaprabha V R, Nidhin Jacob Mathew and Mitu Raj – are pursuing their final-year studies in VLSI and Embedded Systems. “We used an old flashlight to build the prototype. Actually, the gadget can be made in any shape,” explained Sujith. Electronic devices that help the blind pick their way through busy streets are not new. What makes ‘Indriya’ special is its reliance on simple voice alerts and affordability, its developers say. It has two components; a natty hand-held device fitted with sensors for obstacle detection and a regular smart phone with an android-based app interface for navigation and communication support. The hand-held device features six buttons; one each for power, obstacle scanner and for time and location. The remaining three indicate speed dial buttons for making emergency calls from the phone.
“Say, for instance, the user is about to collide with something two metres away. The smart phone warns him or her ‘Obstacle at two metres.’ ‘Indriya’ also tells the time and identifies locations using the voice app and allows the user to make phone calls from the device without touching the smart phone,” Sujith said. In order to identify the location, Indriya uses Google Maps service. “The device can be kept in the pocket. Or, it can be made more compact and fastened on the user’s belt,” said Nidhin, as the five, along with their project guide Divya D S demonstrated Indriya at the C-DAC campus on Friday. The five hit upon the idea of developing a navigational aid for the blind as most technologies available today are either impractical, bulky or expensive. ‘Indriya’ cost just Rs 1,500 to develop. Bulk production will reduce the cost even further, they said. “In fact, IIT-Delhi had developed a ‘Smart Cane,’ a cane with sensors. That, in fact, was our reference project,” Sujith said. ‘Indriya’ was first demonstrated at a tech-fest held at the Government Model Engineering College, Thrikkakara. Now the students plan to present the guidance system before the blind club in the state capital. – Courtesy