HandSight: A Glove for the Blind to Feel Shapes and Navigate Obstacles




HandSight is a prototype glove to aid the blind. It can sense the lightness or darkness of a surface with tactile feedback from a vibration motor for each individual finger. It can also sense distance from physical objects or obstructions and indicate direction and distance with the same vibration feedback. It supports additional modes, and the possibilities are nearly endless. The glove can connect over Bluetooth to switch modes and visualize the sensor readings.
This instructable was made as part of the final project requirement in the CS graduate course “Tangible Interactive Computing” at the University of Maryland, College Park taught by Professor Jon Froehlich. The course focused on exploring the materiality of interactive computing and, in the words of Hiroshii Ishii, sought to “seamlessly couple the dual worlds of bits and atoms.” Please see http://cmsc838f-f12.wikispaces.com/ for more details.

See our Wiki class page for the project here (where we talk about some of our challenges and limitations):
http://cmsc838f-f12.wikispaces.com/HandSigh

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Step 1: List of Materials

A Glove for the Blind to Feel Shapes and Navigate Obstacles

– Arduino Pro Mini-328 (5v, 3.3v may work but not tested) (x1)
– IR Reflectance Sensor – QRE1113 (x4)
– Vibration Motor ROB-08449 (x4)
– Ultrasonic Range Finder (x2) http://www.amazon.com/Ultrasonic-Module-HC-SR04-Distance-Arduino/dp/B004U8TOE6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355861471&sr=8-1&keywords=Ultrasonic+Range+Finder
– Bluetooth Mate Silver WRL-10393 (x1)
– 68 ohm Resistor (x1)
– 9v Battery and Battery Case with Switch (x1)
– FTDI cable (for programming) (x1)
– Double Sided Sticky Tape, or other adhesive to hold the ultrasonic sensors in place
– Wire, electrical tape, and soldering materials. Rainbow ribbon cable is recommended for easy wiring of the fingertip sensors.
– Glove that you don’t mind repurposing permanently
– Extra cloth that matches the glove
– Velcro, Sewing Materials
– Windows Phone to run our visualization and control app, or any device that supports the Bluetooth Serial Port Protocol (SPP) if you want to develop your own appAll electronic components available on sparkfun unless otherwise noted

Step 2: 3D Printing

Holders for the sensors can be found here:http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:38133
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:38134

We printed with MakerBot Replicator 2. Download STL files, open in a program called ReplicatorG. Put on platform/center. Generate Gcode.

Material PLA

Settings used:
infill% 10
layer height 0.27 mm
number of shells 1
feedrate 41 m/s
travel feedrate 56
print temp 226

plastic diameter 1.75 mm
extruder nozzle diameter 0.4mm

(in the actual gcode we changed platform temp to 060, which worked well for PLA)

Print four sets of the fingertip case, and two of the ultrasonic slot.

Step 3: Assembling the IR Sensor Package for Each Finger

Thread wire through the holes, place sensor next to them so that pin 1 is in bottom left. Carefully solder the wires to the pins, and check to make sure there aren’t any short circuits. Add the vibration motor into its hole, and solder wires to the leads so that they are the same length as the IR sensor wires. Repeat this process for the other three sensor assemblies. We used a rainbow ribbon cable for this process so that the wires stayed compact and so that it was easy to identify which wire was which.

Step 4: Attaching Fingertip Assemblies to the Glove

Cut a hole the size of the face of the 3D printed assembly into each of the four fingertips (not the thumb. Also cut a small slit on top of each finger of the glove large enough to pass through all six wires. You should reinforce the cut areas by either sewing tight stitches around them or by melting them depending on the glove’s material. Now thread the wires through the hole in the fingertip and out the hole on top of the knuckles. Repeat for the other three sensor packages.

A Glove for the Blind to Feel Shapes and Navigate Obstacles schematic

Step 5: Attaching Ultrasonic Sensors to the Glove

Sew the two ultrasonic sensor supports to the top of the glove, far enough back so that they won’t bend with the fingers. They should be angled slightly away from each other so that their field of view is widened (5-10 degrees). Place double sided sticky tape or some other adhesive on the plastic between the slots, and attach the two ultrasonic sensors with their power and communication pins facing up and their audio sensors facing forward. Either solder wires to the pins, or use a less permanent solution as we did (see image).




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  • how to make ultrasonic navigation for blind circuit diagram
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