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KONTAKT – Barrier-free Communication

KONTAKT translates tactile language into spoken language and vice versa, spoken language into Braille to give deafblind people hearing and a voice.

  • The active glove with its LED strip sewn on. Braille font to be seen on the back of the glove.

  • The video shows the functionality and a scenario in which the system could be used.

    The video shows the functionality and a scenario in which the system could be used.

  • How KONTAKT translates the different languages into one another.

  • Detailview on the inactive glove and its packaging material.

  • Me, how I work the plaster cast of my hand. It's for the interactive prototype.

  • Inside the interactive prototype. Solenoids to be seen on the top-right of the photo.

Was es macht

KONTAKT serves as a translation medium in the form of a glove system. Speech can be translated into tactile Braille, while "Lormen" or "sign language" is converted back into speech. This speech is emitted from the glove via an audio output.


Deine Inspiration

In the beginning, I dealt with the phenomenon of synaesthesia. People with synaesthesia, for example, hear sounds when they see colors. This ability is not only reserved for genuine synaesthetes: In a way, it is found in neurotypical people, too! We also link sounds to certain properties or haptics of products or things. This lead me to my later project. If two essential senses are missing, it can have far-reaching consequences. Due to the limitation of their senses, deaf-blind people experience a different level of reality - the ability to express oneself is thus impaired and bound to a person who can translate tactile language.


So funktioniert es

"Lormen" are letters that are written in the palm of one hand. Each area of the hand is assigned to a letter. Words and sentences can thus be written and read by deaf-blind people. Sign language is articulated and read by deaf-blind people using their hands. The glove system recognizes the "Lormen" through touch sensors; sign language is recognized through touch-, bending- and position sensors to get the exact position of the hands in the room. When a user wants to communicate with a non-impaired person, he uses his familiar language, e.g. "sign language": Everything he articulates with the glove system is then automatically translated into audible language and emitted via an audio output. The speech pattern is as natural as possible and can be customized to fit the user. In reverse, speech is translated into Braille. An Audio-Input recognizes the speech and translates it into the embossed printing. It can be felt on the back of the glove.


Designprozess

After finding an idea to improve the communication between deaf-blind people and people who do not speak tactile languages, my research phase begins. I did an interview with Melissa G., who works in one of the largest deaf-blind institutions in Germany. The findings of this interview flow into my project. The further mail contact with a deaf-blind person, who writes me via a Braille display, confirms my considerations. Then a long research phase began about deaf-blindness, which abilities these people possess and what has to be considered. As a result, a rough glove prototype was created. It was not interactive and initially had pin heads as Braille characters. This first draft lets me test to what extent the writing on the back of the hand is legible. Also, how the glove feels when worn. Further sketches are made and finally a glove with LED band is sewn. Finally I programmed a single Braille character, which can display letters using an Arduino microcontroller and solenoids. A plaster hand with a built-in touch sensor is also connected to it and recognizes Morse symbols, which are representative for the "Lormen".


Wo ist der Unterschied?

Compared to other products, the user does not need any further connection to other devices, for e.g.: his smartphone. The system can be easily operated on the go. By selecting sign language or Lormen, the user can choose his preferred language in which to communicate. Through the audio output and input, the user -but also a communication partner- can communicate in his native language without having to learn anything new. The purchase of the system also has advantages: Users rent the system on a daily, weekly or annual basis. Most of the costs incurred can be covered by the public health insurance. This means that users always have a viable device that they can use flexibly and cost-effectively. However, the system does not replace a deaf-blind assistant, but gives its users hearing and a voice. This means that deaf-blind people can also talk to people who do not speak tactile languages. With KONTAKT, deaf-blind people are more independent and self-determined.


Zukunftspläne

KONTAKT is currently in the concept phase. It still needs a lot of testing and development to make it functional at all. It should therefore first create an awareness of the disability and related limitations. It should show people that there are disabilities that significantly limit the primary senses and that these people are also a valuable part of society. I think we could learn a lot from these people. Perhaps this will lead to new & inspiring projects and ideas to enrich everyday life with disabilities and to explore new ways of designing things with a new point of view.


Auszeichnungen

KONTAKT was exhibited as part of the see-conference in Wiesbaden in 2019.


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