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Vibraille

A mobile application to aid blind communities to read independently without any help from external devices by using the combination of Braille and phone vibration to read any digital materials.

What it does

Vibraille enables blind communities to read digital materials using phones by sensing the vibration. Vibraille translated the codes following the Braille pattern and eliminates the mainstream approach which uses external devices and voice reader.


Your inspiration

There is a worrying gap between the rapid growth of mobile phone development and the ability of the blind community to use it. We believe that this group should be given equal rights and freedom to use technology especially reading texts without any help from third parties. Looking at the benefits of the Braille systems in helping this community in reading, we believe that a new approach can be adapted in the form of vibration which can be sensed through tactile senses. We hope that it can ease the blind community to read text that appears on their mobile phone screen as well as protect their privacy and personal element while reading.


How it works

The ultimate goal is to allow the visually impaired groups to read digital texts - users can read digital text on-screen with only a single touch followed by the interpretation of vibration. Inspired by the traditional Braille character, we defined a set of dot positions by numbers from one to six. The application will analyze the word into Braille symbols and patterns which will then be converted to vibration. As the user touches the screen or their mobile phone, they will be able to differentiate which dots are being read through the different intensity of the vibration. The vibration intensity will be higher to represent raised dot and the lower intensity is for the non-raised dot. With only simple steps to use the app;- user open Vibraille app, choose a digital text to read with the help of voice on-screen reader, double-tap to open text, single tap to start reading, interpret translated vibration.


Design process

We have done research and visits to organizations that supports the visually impaired community. Looking at the importance of Braille, we combined the traditional way of reading at the modern built-in smartphone features into one simple app. Each character from the reading material is translated following the existing Braille pattern. Generally, the basic Braille character is made up of 6 dots consisting of raised (invisible) and unraised dots (visible). Hence, each character would have different patterns. In order to differentiate raised and unraised dots in this app, we are implementing different vibration intensity. The vibration intensity changes according to the pattern of each character that has been recorded. Various intensities are tested on the user to make sure that the difference in raised dot and unraised dot is noticeable. Longer and stronger vibration represents visible dots while shorter and weaker vibrations represent invisible dots. The intensity and duration of the vibration are important in this project as we have to make sure that all the characters are recognizable. We built this app using Android studio and converted it as an APK for us to be able to test the app whether it is workable and functional or not.


How it is different

We’ve found out that there are no existing apps or devices that implement the concept and braille and vibration created for blind communities. This app allowed users to read texts without interrupting their privacy. Common apps usually use voice reader to aid the visually impaired group to read. This will invade their privacy when the reading material is being read out loud especially in public. They cannot read in silence. Vibraille app enforces the privacy element and personal element to the user that the vibration can only be sensed by the user's finger. This app is also cost-effective and independent from any external device such as earphones or machines. People from all age groups are now using smartphones and we take advantage of the existing built-in vibration features in phones and implement it into Vibraille. We believe that Vibraille can remove this limitation. With Vibraille, they no longer need text-to-speech and external devices. Just Vibraille.


Future plans

Our future plan is to developed Vibraille into to fully functional mobile application that can aid reading without any further limitation. Currently, this app is implementing Grade 1 Braille which involves each alphabet to be translated one by one. In the future, it will be improvised by implementing a higher grade of Braille involving more words and shortcuts which indirectly save more reading time. We are planning to publish this app in Google Play and Apple store so that it can be freely accessed and downloaded by the visually impaired groups and aid them to read digital materials.


Awards

We managed to get compliments on this project as it was being examined by lecturers from School of Computer Science, Universiti Sains Malaysia as our universitiy innovation project. We are also graded an A for this project.


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